WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION
MARCH 1953 • 35 CENTS
by Ivor Jorgenson
DEFENSE BASE ON THE MOON— Two robot missiles,
directed by base radio control and radar, leave their
launching racks in pursuit of a foreign craft which has
failed to acknowledge radio communications and identify
itself. With their nose cameras they will send a televised
image of the craft back to the defense base. If the croft
is hostile, the missiles are directed to destroy it. Time:
dawn. First hard sun rays hit crater pecks; Earth still
lights base. Now turn to inside back cover.
WORLDS of SCIENCE FICTION
All Stories New and Complete
Edilor: JAMES L. QUINN
Art Director: ED VALIGURSKY
Cover: Landing on Deimus
By Ken Fagg
DEADLY CITY by Ivar Jorgenson
THY NAME IS WOMAN by Kenneth O'Hora
MARGIN OF ERROR by Richard Deeming
THE VICTOR by Bryce Walton
THE SWORD by Frank Quattrocchi
THE ROTIFERS by Robert Abernathy
THE BLACK TIDE by Arthur G. Stanglond
THE SALESMAN by Waldo T. Boyd
A CHAT WITH THE EDITOR
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE
THE POSTMAN COMETH
COVER PICTORIAL: Defense Base on the Moon
IF is published bi-monthly by Quinn Publishing Company, Ii^. Volume 2, No, 1.
Copyright 1933 by Quinn Publi.shing Co., Inc. Office of publication, 8 Lord Street,
Buffalo, New York. Entered as Second Glass Matter at Post Office, Buffalo, New
York. Subscription $3.50 for 12 issues in U.S. and Possessions; Canada $4 for 12
issues; elsewhere $4.50. Allow four weeks for change of address. All stories appear-
ing in this magazine are fiction; any similarity to actual persons is coincidental.
Not responsible for unsolicited artwork or manuscripts. 35c a copy. Printed in U.S.A.
EDITORIAL AND BUSINESS OFFICES, KINGSTON, NEW YORK
Next issue on sale March 11th
A CHAT WITH
IN JANUARY 1952 a new science
fiction magazine called IF was born
and appeared quietly and un-
heralded on the newsstands. With
this issue, that magazine is one year
old. Actually, this is the first issue of
the second year. Now, in the light
of other magazines with tenures of
20 or 10 or even five years, a first
birthday isn't particularly impor-
tant. But it is somewhat significant
in the case of IF, because it seems
to indicate— after a year of slow,
steady growth — that the infant is
going to live.
During the past year we have
worked hard to make each succeed-
ing issue one of improvement. We
have tried to secure better stories,
better artwork, better editorial ef-
fort in producing a more interest-
ing, more attractive science fiction
magazine for your entertainment.
And when we compare Volume 2,
Number 1 with Volume 1, Number
1, we feel a certain amount of satis-
faction. Not that the ultimate has
been achieved by a long, long shot.
Not that this issue represents the
best we can do. But because we
have learned and progressed with
each succeeding issue and feel that
this issue is an improvement over
the first six. And the fact that circu-
lation has responded to such nour-
ishment seems to indicate that you,
too, think it is improving.
So this is IF's first birthday, and
don't think we haven't walked the
floor at night with it, incurred some
sweet headaches and magnificent
hangovers. We've had some won-
derful fun, too. Also^ — we've found
that a lot of swell people were will-
ing to help with the feeding, the
burping and diaper changing.
Artists and writers and agents have
been cooperative and willing; the
printers have been patient and un-
derstanding; the engravers always
ready with a helping hand; the pa-
per makers always prompt; some of
the best circulation guys to ever
handle a magazine have bent over
backwards to put the baby out
where you can see it; and you,
sweet reader, have been indulgent
and interested and willing enough
to plunk down thirty-five cents in
coin of the realm to take a look at
the brat . . . All in all, a lot of nice
people have had a hand in helping
the infant IF learn to walk. Another
year of this sort of attention and the
kid'U be climbing fences'.
INCIDENTALLY, one of the big
stories in IF's young life is appear-
ing in the next issue. It's called
Jupiter Five and was written by
Arthur C. Clarke, Chairman of
the British Interplanetary Society.
One of th(; world's authorities on
the subject, Mr. Clarke has a
iMDoth, friendly style of writing
ili.it lends to a space adventure the
i-asy familiarity of a walk around
the block. His Exploration of
Space was a Book-of-the-Month
Club selection last fall. Ken Fagg,
cover artist for this issue, is ( as this
is written) reading the manuscript
of Jupiter Five for a cover idea.
Mr. Fagg, who recently caught the
sc:ience fiction bug, is now a lead-
ing artist in other fields and it's a
pretty safe bet he'll soon be among
the top artists in science fiction.
NOT SO long ago I had my first op-
portunity to meet personally a large
representation of the real fandom
of science fiction — a bunch of guys
and gals who got to Chicago via
train, bus, plane, auto, boat and
pogo-stick to attend the 10th World
Science Fiction Convention. And I
was really amazed to see the hun-
dreds of young folks so keenly (and
rabidly) interested in science fic-
tion. I had the pleasant experience
of talking with quite a few and I
found each one eager, alert, and
wise as to what was happening in
the world of science fiction. Many
of them could tell you what illustra-
tion appeared on what page of such
and such magazine in an issUe that
must have been published while
they were about the same age as IF.
They knew the latest stories, and
the authors, when and where they
appeared, and would tell you, with-
out mincing words, what they
thought of them. At the auction, a
lot of them hocked the family
homestead to take home a cover
painting, an interior illustration or
a manuscript. These young people
(I'm not including the pros, the
editors, agents, authors, etc.) came
from all over the USA, and lots of
them saved their own hard-earned
cash for a year in order to make the
trip. Unlike a business or political
convention, they didn't stand to
make money on this deal, they did
it because they were crazy about
One who seemed to me to typi-
fy the spirit of the convention is
a gangling, blond, be-spectacled
young man of nineteen named Jim
Webbert. He is one of those who
had been feeding the piggy bank
for a year in order to make the trip
— and believe me, brother, he
wasn't going to miss a trick. He
knew more about what was going
on and where than the whole staff
of house dicks ; he was up and down
the hotel more than the elevators,
and he could tell practically any-
body what kind of cigarette he
smoked, whether he preferred tea
to coffee, and what his particular
niche in science fiction happened to
be. Jim lives in Salt La*e City,
Utah, is a senior in college, where
he is majoring in chemical engi-
neering, and during the summer he
has been working as a meter reader
to earn expenses. While in high
school he started reading science
fiction — ^which decided him on
chemical engineering as a career. I
don't think it requires much of a
prophet to predict he'll go a long ^
So I'm glad I met these yoimg
people who represent science fiction
fandom. I'm glad they live in
America. I'm glad I'm working on
a science fiction magazine. — ^jlq
By Ivar Jorgenson
Illustrated by Ed Emsh
You're all alone in a deserted city. You walk down an
empty street, yearning for the sight of one living face
— one moving figure. Then you see a man on a corner
and you know your terror has only begun.
HE AWOKE slowly, like a man
plodding knee-deep through
the thick stuff of nightmares. There
was no definite line between the
dream-state and wakefulness. Only
a dawning knowledge that he was
finally conscious and would have to
do something about it.
He opened his eyes, but this made
no difference. The blackness re-
mained. The pain in his head
brightened and he reached up and
found the big lump they'd evidently
put on his head for good measure —
a margin of safety.
They must have been prudent
people, because the bang on the
head had hardly been necessary.
The spiked drink which they had
given him would have felled an ox.
He remembered going down into
the darkness after drinking it, and
of knowing what it was. He remem-
bered the helpless feeling.
It did not worry him now. He
was a philosophical person, and the
fact he was still alive cancelled out
the drink and its result. He thought,
with savor, of the chestnut-haired
girl who had watched him take the
drink. She had worn a very low
bodice, and that was where his eyes
had been at the last moment — on
the beautiful, tanned breasts — until
they'd wavered and puddled into a
blur and then into nothing.
The chestnut-haired girl had
been nice, but now she was gone
and there were more pressing prob-
He sat up, his hands behind him
at the ends of stiff arms clawing
into long-undisturbed dust and filth.
His movement stirred the dust and
it rose into his nostrils.
He straightened and banged his
head against a low ceiling. The pain
made him sick for a minute and he
sat down to regain his senses. He
cursed the ceiling, as a matter of
course, in an agonized whisper.
Ready to move again, he got onto
his hands and knees and crawled
cautiously forward, exploring as he
went. His hand pushed through
cobwebs and found a rough, cement
wall. He went around and around.
It was all cement — all solid.
Hell! They hadn't sealed him up
in this place! There had been a way
in so there had to be a way out. He
went around again.
Then he tried the ceiling and
found the opening — a wooden trap
covering a four-by-four hole — cov-
ering it snugly. He pushed the trap
away and daylight streamed in. He
raised himself up until he was eye-
level with a discarded shaving
cream jar lying on the bricks of an
alley. He could read the trade mark
on the jar, and the slogan: "For the
He pulled himself up into the al-
ley. As a result of an orderly child-
hood, he replaced the wooden trap
and kicked the shaving cream jar
against a garbage can. He rubbed
his chin and looked up and down
It was high noon. An uncovered
sun blazed down to tell him this.
And there was no one in sight.
HE STARTED walking toward
the nearer mouth of file alley.
He had been in that hole a long
time, he decided. This conviction
came from his hunger and the
heavy growth of beard he'd
sprouted. Twenty-four hours —
maybe longer. That mickey must
have been a lulu.
He walked out into the cross
street. It was empty. No people —
no cars parked at the curbs — only a
cat washing its dirty face on a tene-
ment stoop across the street. He
looked up at the tenement windows.
They stared back. There was an
empty, deserted look about them.
The cat flowed down the front
steps of the tenement and away to-
ward the rear and he was truly
alone. He rubbed his harsh chin.
Must be Sunday, he thought. Then
he knew it could not be Sunday.
He'd gone into the tavern on a
Tuesday night. That would make it
five days. Too long.
He had been walking and now he
•was at an intersection where he
could look up and down a new
street. There were no cars — no peo-
ple. Not even a cat.
A sign overhanging the sidewalk
said: Restaurant. He went in un-
der the sign and tried the door. It
was locked. There were no lights in-
side. He turned away— grinning to
reassure himself. Everything was all
right. Just some kind of a holiday.
In a big city Hke Chicago the peo-
ple go away on hot summer holi-
days. They go to the beaches and
the parks and sometimes you can't
see a living soul on the streets. And
of course you can't find any cars
because the people use them to
drive to the beaches and the parks
and out into the country. He
breathed a little easier and started
Sure — that was it. Now what the
hell holiday was it? He tried to re-
member. He couldn't think of what
holiday it could be. Maybe they'd
dreamed up a new one. He grinned
at that, but the grin was a little
tight and he had to force it. He
forced it carefully until his teeth
Pretty soon he would come to a
section where everybody hadn't
gone to the beaches and the parks
and a restaurant would be open and
he'd get a good meal.
A meal? He fumbled toward his
pockets. He dug into them and
found a handkerchief and a button
from his cuff. He remembered that
the button had hung loose so he'd
pulled it off to keep from losing it.
He hadn't lost the button, but
everything else was gone. He
scowled. The least they could have
done was to leave a man eating
He turned another corner — into
another street — and it was like the
one before. No cars — no people —
not even any cats.
Panic welled up. He stopped and
whirled around to look behind him.
No one was there. He walked in a
tight circle, looking in all directions.
Windows stared back at him — eyes
that didn't care where everybody
had gone or when they would come
back. The windows could wait. The
windows were not hungry. Their
heads didn't ache. They weren't
He began walking and his path
veered outward from the sidewalk
until he was in the exact center of
the silent street. He walked down
the worn white line. When he got to
the next corner he noticed that the
traffic signals were not working.
Black, empty eyes.
His pace quickened. He walked
faster — ever faster until he was
trotting on the brittle pavement, his
sharp steps echoing against the
buildings. Faster. Another corner.
And he was running, filled with
panic, down the empty street.
THE GIRL opened her eyes and
stared at the ceiling. The ceiling
was a blur but it began to clear as
her mind cleared. The ceiling be-
came a surface of dirty, cracked
plaster and there was a feeling of
dirt and squalor in her mind.
It was always like that at these
times of awakening, but doubly bit-
ter now, because she had never
expected to awaken again. She
reached dovm and pulled the
wadded sheet from beneath her legs
and spread it over them. She looked
at the bottle on the shabby bed-
table. There were three sleeping
pills left in it. The girl's eyes
clouded with resentment. You'd
think seven pills would have done
it. She reached down and took the
sheet in both hands and drew it
taut over her stomach. This was a
gesture of frustration. Seven hadn't
been enough, and here she was
again — awake in the world she'd
wanted to leave. Awake with the
necessary edge of determination
She pulled the sheet into a wad
and threw it at the wall. She got up
and walked to the window and
looked out. Bright daylight. She
wondered how long she had slept.
A long time, no doubt.
Her naked thigh pressed against
the windowsill and her bare stom-
ach touched the dirty pane. Naked
in the window, but it didn't matter,
because it gave onto an airshaft and
other windows so caked with grime
as to be of no value as windows.
But even aside from that, it
didn't matter. It didn't matter in
She went to the washstand, her
bare feet making no sound on the
worn rug. She turned on the faucets,
but no water came. No water, and
she had a terrible thirst. She went
to the door and had thrown the bolt
before she remembered again that
she was naked. She turned back
and saw the half-empty Pepsi-Cola
bottle on the floor beside the bed
table. Someone else had left it there
— how many nights ago? — but she
drank it anyhow, and even though
it was flat and warm it soothed her
She bent over to pick up gar-
ments from the floor and dizziness
came, forcing her to the edge of the
bed. After a while it passed and she
got her legs into one of the gar-
ments and pulled it on.
Taking cosmetics from her bag,
she went again to the washstand
and tried the taps. Still no water.
She combed her hair, jerking the
comb through the mats and gnarls
with a satisfying viciousness. When
the hair fell into its natural, blond
curls, she applied powder and lip-
stick. She went back to the bed,
picked up her brassiere and began
putting it on as she walked to the
cracked, full-length mirror in the
closet door. With the brassiere in
place, she stood looking at her slim
image. She assayed herself with
She shouldn't look as good as she
did — ^not after the beating she'd
taken. Not after the long nights and
the days and the years, even though
the years did not add up to very
I could be someone's wife, she
thought, with wry humor. I could
be sending kids to school and going
out to argue with the grocer about
the tomatoes being too soft. I don't
look bad at all.
She raised her eyes until they
were staring into their own images
in the glass and she spoke aloud in
a low, wondering voice. She said,
"Who the hell am I, anyway? Who
am I? A body named Linda— that's
who I am. No — that's what 1 am.
A body's not a who — it's a what.
One hundred and fourteen pounds
of well-built blond body called Lin-
da — model 1931 — ^no fender dents
— nice paint job. Come in and drive
me away. Price tag — "
She bit into the lower lip she'd
just finished reddening and turned
quickly to walk to the bed and wrig-
gle into her dress — a gray and green
cotton — the only one she had. She
picked up her bag and went to the
door. There she stopped to turn
and thumb her nose at the three
sleeping pills in the bottle before
she went out and closed the door
The desk clerk was away from
the cubbyhole from which he pre-
sided over the lobby, and there were
no loungers to undress her as she
walked toward the door.
Nor was there anyone out in the
street. The girl looked north and
south. No cars in sight either. No
buses waddling up to the curb to
spew out passengers.
The girl went five doors north
and tried to enter a place called
Tim's Hamburger House. As the
lock held and the door refused to
open, she saw that there were no
lights on inside — no one behind the
counter. The place was closed.
She walked on down the street
followed only by the lonesome
sound of her own clicking heels.
All the stores were closed. All the
lights were out.
All the people were gone.
HE WAS a huge man, and the
place of concealment of the
Chicago Avenue police station was
very small — merely an indentation
low in the cement wall behind two
steam pipes. The big man had lain
in this niche for forty-eight hours.
He had slugged a man over the turn
of a card in a poolroom pinochle
game, had been arrested in due
course, and was awaiting the dis-
posal of his case.
He was sorry he had slugged the
man. He had not had any deep
hatred for him, but rather a rage of
the moment that demanded vio-
lence as its outlet. Although he did
not consider it a matter of any great
importance, he did not look for-
ward to the six month's jail sen-
tence he would doubtless be given.
His opportunity to hide in the
niche had come as accidentally and
as suddenly as his opportunity to
slug his card partner. It had come
after the prisoners had been advised
of the crisis and were being herded
into vans for transportation else-
where. He had snatched the oppor-
tunity without giving any considera-
tion whatever to the crisis. Probably
because he did not have enough
imagination to fear anything — how-
ever terrible^which might occur in
the future. And because he treas-
ured his freedom above all else.
Freedom for today, tomorrow could
take care of itself.
Now, after forty-eight hours, he
writhed and twisted his huge body
out of the niche and onto the floor
of the furnace room. His legs were
numb and he found that he could
not stand. He managed to sit up
and was able to bend his back
enough so his great hands could
reach his legs and begin to massage
life back into them.
So elementally brutal was this
man that he pounded his legs until
they were black and blue, before
feeling returned to them. In a few
minutes he was walking out of the
lurnacf room through a jail house
which should now be utterly de-
-I iii'd. But was it? He went slowly,
'_;li(ling along close to the walls to
iiach the front door unchallenged.
1 le walked out into the street. It
was daylight and the street was
completely deserted. The man took
a deep breath and grinned. "I'll be
damned," he muttered. "I'll be
double and triple damned. They're
all gone. Every damn one of them
run off like rats and I'm the only
one left. I'll be damned!"
A tremendous sense of exultation
seized him. He clenched his fists
and laughed loud, his laugh echoing
up the street. He was happier than
he had ever been in his quick, vio-
lent life. And his joy was that of a
child locked in a pantry with a huge
He rubbed a hand across his
mouth, looked up the street, began
walking. "I wonder if they took all
the whisky with them," he said.
Then he grinned; he was sure they
He began walking in long strides
toward Clark Street. In toward the
still heart of the empty city.
HE WAS a slim, pale-skinned
little man, and very danger-
ous. He was also very clever. Even-
tually they would have found out,
but he had been clever enough to
deceive them and now they would
never know. There was great wealth
in his family, and with the rest of
them occupied with leaving the city
and taking what valuables they
ctould on such short notice, he had
been put in charge of one of the
The chauffeur had been given
the responsibility of getting the
pale-skinned young man out of the
city. But the young man had caused
several delays until all the rest were
gone. Then, meekly enough, he had
accompanied the chauffeur to the
garage. The chauffeur got behind
the wheel of the last remaining car
— a Cadillac sedan — and the young
man had gotten into the rear seat.
But before the chauffeur could
start the motor, the young man hit
him on the head with a tire bar he
had taken from a shelf as they had
entered the garage.
The bar went deep into the
chauffeur's skull with a solid sound,
and thus the chauffeur found the
death he was in the very act of flee-
The young man pulled the dead
chauffeur from the car and laid him
on the cement floor. He laid him
down very carefully, so that he was
in the exact center of a large square
of outlined cement with his feet
pointing straight north and his out-
stretched arms pointing south.
The young man placed the
chauffeur's cap very carefully upon
his chest, because neatness pleased
him. Then he got into the car,
started it, and headed east toward
Lake Michigan and the downtown
After traveling three or four
miles, he turned the car off the road
and drove it into a telephone post.
Then he walked until he came to
some high weeds. He lay dowft in
the weeds and waited.
He knew there would probably
be a last vanguard of militia hunt-
ing for stragglers. If they saw a
moving car they would investigate.
They would take him into custody
and force him to leave the city.
This, he feltj they had no right to
do. All his life he had been ordered
about— told to do this and that and
the other thing. Stupid orders from
stupid people. Idiots who went so
far as to claim the whole city would
be destroyed, just to make people do
as they said, God! The ends to
which stupid people would go in or-
der to assert their wills over brilliant
The young man lay in the weeds
and dozed off, his mind occupied
with the pleasant memory of the tire
iron settling into the skull of the
After a while he awoke and heard
the cars of the last vanguard passing
down the road. They stopped, in-
spected the Cadillac and found it
serviceable. They took it with them,
but they did not search the weeds
along the road.
When they had disappeared to-
ward the west, the young man came
back to the road and began walk-
ing east, in toward the city.
Complete destruction in two
The young man smiled.
THE GIRL was afraid. For
hours she had walked the
streets of the empty city and the
fear, strengthened by weariness, was
now mounting toward terror. "One
face," she whispered. "Just one per-
son coming out of a house or walk-
ing across the street. That's all I
ask. Somebody to tell me what this
is all about. If I can find one per-
son, I won't be afraid any more."
And the irony of it struck her. A
few hours previously she had at-
tempted suicide. Sick of herself and
of all people, she had tried to end
her own life. Therefore, by ac-
knowledging d€ath as the answer,
she should now have no fear what-
ever of anything. Reconciled to
crossing the bridge into death, no
facet of life should have held terror
But the empty city did hold ter-
ror. One face — one moving form
was all she asked for.
Then, a second irony. When she
saw the man at the corner of Wash-
ington and Wells, her terror in-
creased. They saw each other at
almost the same moment. Both
stopped and stared. Fingers of
panic ran up the girl's spine. The
man raised a hand and the spell
was broken. The girl turned and
ran, and there was more terror in
her than there had been before.
She knew how absurd this was,
but still she ran blindly. What had
she to fear? She knew all about
men; all the things men could do
they had already done to her. Mur-
der was the ultimate, but she was
fresh from a suicide attempt. Death
should hold no terrors for her.
She thought of these things as the
man's footsteps sounded behind her
and she turned into a narrow alley
seeking a hiding place. She found
none and the man turned in after
She found a passageway, entered
with the same blindness which had
brought her into the alley. There
was a steel door at the end and a
brick lying by the sill. The door was
locked. She picked up the brick
and turned. The man skidded on
the filthy alley surface as he turned
into the areaway.
The girl raised the brick over her
head. "Keep away! Stay away from
"Wait a minute! Take it easy.
I'm not going to hurt you!"
Her arm moved downward. The
man rushed in and caught her wrist.
The brick went over his shoulder
and the nails of her other hand
raked his face. He seized her with-
out regard for niceties and they
went to the ground. She fought
with everything she had and he
methodically neutralized all her
weapons- — her hands, her legs, her
teeth — until she could not move.
"Leave me alone. Please!"
"What's wrong with you? I'm not
going to hurt you. But I'm not go-
ing to let you hit me with a brick,
"What do you want? Why did
you chase me?"
"Look — I'm a peaceful guy, but
I'm not going to let you get away. I
spent all afternoon looking for
somebody. I found you and you
ran away. I came after you."
"I haven't done anything to
"That's silly talk. Come on —
grow up! I said I'm not going to
"Let me up."
"So you can run away again? Not
for a while. I want to talk to you."
"I — I won't run. I was scared.
I don't know why. You're hurting
He got up — gingerly — and lifted
her to her feet. He smiled, still hold-
ing both her hands. "I'm sorry. I
guess it's natural for you to be
scared. My name's Frank Brooks.
I just want to find out what the hell
happened to this town."
He let her withdraw her hands,
but he still blocked her escape. She
moved a pace backward and
straightened her clothing. "I don't
know what happened. I was look-
ing for someone too."
He smiled again. "And then you
"I don't know why. I guess — "
"What's your name."
"Nora— Nora Spade."
"You slept through it too?"
"Yes . . . yes. I slept through it
and came out and they were all
"Let's get out of this alley." He
preceded her out, but he waited for
her when there was room for them
to walk side by side, and she did not
try to run away. That phase was
"I got slipped a mickey in a tav-
ern," Frank Brooks said. "Then
they slugged me and put me in a
His eyes questioned. She felt their
demand and said, "I was — asleep
in my hotel room."
"They overlooked you?"
"I guess so."
"Then you don't know anything
"Nothing. Something terrible
must have happened."
"Let's go down this way," Frank
said, and they moved toward Madi-
son Street. He had taken her arm
and she did not pull away. Rather,
she walked invitingly close to him.
She said, "It's so spooky. So . . .
empty. I guess that's what scared
"It would scare anybody. There
must have been an evacuation of
"Maybe the Russians are going
to drop a bomb."
Frank shook his head. "That
wouldn't explain it. I mean, the
Russians wouldn't let us know
ahead of time. Besides, the army
would be here. Everybody wouldn't
"There's been a lot of talk about
germ warfare. Do yOu suppose the
water, maybe, has been poisoned?"
He shook his head. "The same
thing holds true. Even if they
moved the people out, the army
would be here."
"I don't know. It just doesn't
"It happened, so it has to make
sense. It was something that came
up all of a sudden. They didn't
have much more than twenty-four
hours." He stopped suddenly and
looked at her. "We've got to get out
Nora Spade smiled for the first
time, but without humor. "How? I
haven't seen one car. The buses
His mind was elsewhere. They
had started walking again. "Funny
I didn't think of that before."
"Think of what?"
"That anybody left in this town
is a dead pigeon. The only reason
they'd clear out a city would be to
get away from certain death. That
would mean death is here for any-
body that stays. Funny. I was so
-busy looking for somebody to talk
to that I never thought of that."
"Is that what you were scared
"Not particularly. I'm not afraid
to die. It was something else that
scared me. The aloneness, I guess."
"We'd better start walking west
— out of the city. Maybe we'll find
a car or something."
"I don't think we'll find any
He drew her to a halt and looked
into her face. "You aren't afraid at
all, are you?"
She thought for a moment. "No,
I guess I'm not. Not of dying, that
is. Dying is a normal thing. But I
was afraid of the empty streets — no-
body around. That was weird."
"It isn't weird now?"
"Not— not as much."
"I wonder how much time we've
Nora shrugged. "I don't know,
but I'm hungry."
"We can fix that. I broke into a
restaurant a few blocks back and
got myself a sandwich. I think
there's still food around. They
couldn't take it all with them."
They were on Madison Street
and they turned east on the south
side of the street. Nora said, "I
wonder if there are any other peo-
ple still here — like us?"
"I think there must be. Not very
many, but a few. They would have
had to clean four million people
out overnight. It stands to reason
they must have missed a few. Did
you ever try to empty a sack of
sugar? Really empty it? It's im-
possible. Some of the grains always
stick to the sack."
A few minutes later the wisdom
of this observation was proven
when they came to a restaurant
with the front window broken out
and saw a man and a woman sit-
ting at one of the tables.
HE WAS a huge man with a
shock of black hair and a
mouth slightly open showing a set
of incredibly white teeth. He waved
an arm and shouted, "Come on in!
Come on in for crissake and sit
down! We got beer and roast beef
and the beer's still cold. Come on in
and meet Minna."
This was different, Nora thought.
Not eerie. Not weird, like seeing a
man standing on a deserted street
corner with no one else around.
This seemed normal, natural, and
even the smashed window didn't
detract too much from the natural-
They went inside. There were
chairs at the table and they sat
down. The big man did not get up.
He waved a hand toward his com-
panion and said, "This is Minna.
Ain't she something? I found her
sitting at an empty bar scared to
death. We came to an understand-
ing and I brought her along." He
grinned ai the woman and winked.
"We came to a real understanding,
didn't we, Minna?"
, Minna was a completely colorless
woman of perhaps thirty-five. Her
skin was smooth and pale and she
wore no makeup of any kind. Her
hair was drawn straight back into a
bun. The hair had no predominat-
ing color. It was somewhere be-
tween light brown and blond.
She smiled a little sadly, but the
laugh did not cover her worn, tired
look. It seemed more like a gesture
of obedience than anything else.
"Yes. We came to an understand-
"I'm Jim Wilson," the big man
boomed. "I was in the Chicago
Avenue jug for slugging a guy in a
card game. They kind of over-
looked me when they cleaned the
joint out." He winked again. "I
kind of helped them overlook me.
Then I found Minna." There was
tremendous relish in his words.
Frank started introductions
which Nora Spade cut in on. "May-
be you know what happened?" she
Wilson shook his head. "I was in
the jug and they didn't tell us. They
just started cleaning out the joint.
There was talk in the bullpen — in-
vasion or something. Nobody knew
for sure. Have some beer and
Nora tumd to the quiet Minna.
"Did you hear anything?"
"Naw," Wilson said with a kind
of affectionate contempt. "She
don't know anything about it. She
lived in some attic dump and was
down with a sore throat. She took
some pills or something and when
she woke up they were gone."
"I went to work and — " Minna
began, but Wilson cut her off.
"She swabs out some joints on
Chicago Avenue for a living and
that was how she happened to be
sitting in that tavern. It's payday,
and Minna was waiting for her
dough!" He exploded into laughter
and slapped the table with a huge
hand. "Can you beat that? Waiting
for her pay at a time like this."
Frank Brooks set down his beer
bottle. The beer was cold and it
tasted good. "Have you met any-
body else? There must be some
other people around."
"Uh-uh. Haven't met anybody
but Minna," He turned his eyes on
the woman again, then got to his
feet. "Come on, Minna. You and
I got to have a little conference. We
got things to talk about." Grinning,
he walked toward the rear of the
restaurant. Minna got up more
slowly. She followed him behind
the counter and into the rear of the
Alone with Nora, Frank said,
"You aren't eating. Want me to
look for something else?"
"No — I'm not very hungry. I
was just wondering — "
"Wondering about what?"
"When it will happen. When
whatever is going to happen — ^you
know what I mean."
"I'd rather know what's going to
happen. I hate puzzles. It's hell to
have to get killed and not know
what killed you."
"We aren't being very sensible,
"How do you mean?"
"We should at least act normal."
"I don't get it."
Nora frowned in slight annoy-
ance. "Normal people would be
trying to reach safety. They
wouldn't be sitting in a restaurant
drinking beer. We should be trying
to get away. Even if it does mean
walking. Normal people would be
trying to get away."
Frank stared at his bottle for a
moment. "We should be scared
stiff, shouldn't we?"
It was Nora's turn to ponder.
"I'm not sure. Maybe not. I know
I'm not fighting anything inside —
fear, I mean. I just don't seem to
care one way or another."
"I care," Frank replied. "I care.
I don't want to die. But we're faced
with a situation, and either way it's
a gamble. We might be dead before
I finish this bottle of beer. If that's
true, why not sit here and be com-
fortable? Or we might have time to
walk far enough to get out of range
of whatever it is that chased every-
"Which way do you think it is?"
"I don't think we have time to
get out of town. They cleaned it out
too fast. We'd need at least four or
five hours to get away. If we had
that much time the army, or who-
ever did it, would still be around."
"Maybe they didn't know them-
selves when it's going to happen."
He made an impatient gesture.
"What difference does it make?
We're in a situation we didn't ask
to get in. Our luck put us here and
I'm damned if I'm going to kick a
hole in the ceiling and yell for
Nora was going to reply, but at
that moment Jim Wilson came
striding out front. He wore his big
grin and he carried another half-
dozen bottles of beer. "Minna'll be
out in a minute," he said. "Women
are always slower than hell."
He dropped into a chair and
snapped the cap off a beer bottle
with his thumb. He held the bottle
up and squinted through it, sighing
gustily. "Man! I ain't never had it
so good." He tilted the bottle in sa-
l<ute, and drank.
THE SUN was lowering in the
west now, and when Minna re-
appeared it seemed that she ma-
terialized from the shadows, so
quietly did she move. Jim Wilson
opened another bottle and put it
before her. "Here — ^have a drink,
Obediently, she tilted the bottle
"What do you plan to do?"
"It'll be dark soon," Wilson said.
"We ought to go out and try to
scrounge some flashlights. I bet the
power plants are dead. Probably
aren't any flashlights either."
"Are you going to stay here?"
Nora asked. "Here in the Loop?"
He seemed surprised. "Why not?
A man'd be a fool to walk out on all
this. All he wants to eat and drink.
No goddam cops around. The life
of Reilly and I should walk out?"
"Aren't you afraid of what's go-
ing to happen?"
"I don't give a good goddam
what's going to happen. What the
hell! Something's always going to
"They didn't evacuate the city
for nothing," Frank said.
"You mean we can all get
killed?" Jim Wilson laughed. "Sure
we can. We could have got killed
last week too. We could of got
batted in the can by a truck any-
time we crossed the street." He
emptied his bottle, threw it accu-
rately at a mirror over the cash
register. The crash was thunderous.
"Trouble with you people, you're
worry warts," he said with an ex-
pansive grin. "Let's go get us some
flashlights so we can find our way to
bed in one of those fancy hotels."
He got to his feet and Minna
arose also, a little tired, a little ap-
prehensive, but entirely submissive.
Jim Wilson said, "Come on, baby.
I sure won't want to lose you." He
grinned at the others. "You guys
Frank's eyes met Nora's. He
shrugged. "Why not?" he said.
"Unless you want to start walking."
"I'm too tired," Nora said.
As they stepped out through the
smashed window, both Nora and
Frank half-expected to see other
forms moving up and down Madi-
son Street. But there was no one.
Only the unreal desolation of the
lonely pavement and the dark-win-
"The biggest ghost town on
earth," Frank muttered.
Nora's hand had slipped into
Frank's. He squeezed it and neither
of them seemed conscious of the
"I wonder," Nora said. "Maybe
this is only one of them. Maybe all
the other big cities are evacuated
Jim Wilson and Minna were
walking ahead. He turned. "If you
two can't sleep without finding out
what's up, it's plenty easy to do."
"You think we could find a bat-
tery radio in some store?" Frank
"Hell nol They'll all be gone. But
all you'd have to do is snoop around
in some newspaper office. If you
can read you can find out what
It seemed strange to Frank that
he had not thought of this. Then he
realized he hadn't tried very hard
to think of anything at all. He was
surprised, also, at his lack of fear.
He's gone through Hfe pretty much
taking things as they came — as big
a sucker as the next man — ^making
more than his quota of mistakes and
blunders. Finding himself complete-
ly alone' in a deserted city for the
first time in his life, he had natural-
ly fallen prey to sudden fright. But
that had gradually passed, and now
he was able to accept the new real-
ity fairly passively. He wondered if
that wasn't pretty much the way of
all people. New situations brought
a surge of whatever emotion fitted
the picture. Then the emotion sub-
sided and the new thing became the
This, he decided, was the manner
in which humanity survived. Hu-
manity took things as they came.
Pile on enough of anything and it
becomes the ordinary.
Jim Wilson had picked up a gar-
bage box apd hurled it through the
window of an electric shop. The
glass came down with a crash that
shuddered up the empty darkening
street and grumbled off into silence.
Jim Wilson went inside. "I'll see
what I can find. You stay out here
and watch for cops." His laughter
echoed out as he disappeared.
Minna stood waiting silently, un-
moving, and somehow she re-
minded Frank of a dumb animal;
an unreasoning creature with no
mind of her own, waiting for a sig-
nal from her master. Strangely, he
resented this, but at the same time
could find no reason for his resent-
ment, except the feeling that no one
should appear as much a slave as
Jim Wilson reappeared in the
window. He motioned to Minna.
"Come on in, baby. You and me's
got to have a little conference." His
exaggerated wink was barely per-
ceptible in the gloom as Minna
stepped over the low sill into the
store. "Won't be long, folks," Wil-
son said in high good humor, and
the two of them vanished into the
Frank Brooks glanced at Nora,
but her face was turned away. He
cursed softy under his breath. He
said, "Wait a minute," and went
into the store through the huge,
Inside, he could barely make out
the counters. The place was larger
than it had appeared from the out-
side. Wilson and Minna were no-
Frank found the counter he was
looking for and pawed out several
flashlights. They were only empty
tubes, but he found a case of bat-
teries in a panel compartment
against the wall.
"Me. I came in for some flash-
"Couldn't you wait?"
"It's getting dark."
"You don't have to be so damn
impatient." Jim Wilson's voice was
hostile and surly.
Frank stifled his quick anger.
"We'll be outside," he said. He
found Nora waiting where he'd left
her. He loaded batteries into four
flashlights before Jim Wilson and
Wilson's good humor was back.
"How about the Morrison or the
Sherman," he said. "Or do you
want to get real ritzy and walk up
to the Drake?"
"My feet hurt," Minna said. The
woman spoke so rarely, Frank
Brooks was startled by her words.
"Morrison's the closest," Jim
Wilson said. "Let's go." He took
Minna by the arm and swung off
up the street. Frank and Nora fell
Nora shivered. Frank, holding
her arm, asked, "Cold?"
"No. It's just all — unreal again."
"I see what you mean."
"I never expected to see the Loop
dark. I can't get used to it."
A vagrant, whispering wind
picked up a scrap of paper and
whirled it along the street. It caught
against Nora's ankle. She jerked
perceptibly and kicked the scrap
away. The wind caught it again and
spiralled it away into the darkness.
"I want to tell you something,"
"I told you before that I slept
through the— the evacuation, or
whatever it was. That wasn't exact-
ly true. I did sleep through it, but
it was my fault. I put myself to
"I don't get it."
"I tried to kill myself. Sleeping
tablets. Seven of them. They
Frank said nothing while they
paced off ten steps through the dark
canyon that was Madison Street.
Nora wondered if he had heard.
"I tried to commit suicide."
"I was tired of life, I guess."
"What do you want — sym-
The sudden harshness in his
voice brought her eyes around, but
his face was a white blur.
"No — no, I don't think so."
"Well, you won't get it from me.
Suicide is silly. You can have trou-
bles and all that— everybody has
them — ^but suicide — why did you
A high, thin whine — a wordless
vibration of eloquence — needled
out of the darkness into their ears.
The shock was like a sudden shower
of ice water dashed over their
bodies. Nora's fingers dug into
Frank's arm, but he did not feel the
cutting nails. "We're — there's some-
one out there in the street!"
TWENTY-FIVE feet ahead of
where Frank and Nora stood
frozen there burst the booming
voice of Jim Wilson. "What the
hell was that?" And the shock was
dispelled. The white circle from
Wilson's flash bit out across the
blackness to outline movement on
the far side of the street. Then
Frank Brook's light, and Nora's,
"There's somebody over there,"
Wilson bellowed. "Hey, you! Show
your face! Quit sneaking around!"
Frank's light swept an arc that
clearly outlined the buildings across
the street and then weakened as it
swung westward. There was some-
thing or someone back there, but
obscured by the dimness. He was
swept by a sense of unreality again.
"Did you see them?"
Nora's light beam had dropped
to her feet as though she feared to
point it out into the darkness. "I
thought I saw something."
Jim Wilson was swearing indus-
triously. "There was a guy over
there. He ducked around the cor-
ner. Some damn fool out scroung-
ing. Wish I had a gun."
Frank and Nora moved ahead
and the four stood in a group. "Put
out your lights," Wilson said. "They
make good targets if the jerk's got
They stood in the darkness, Nora
holding tightly to Frank's arm.
Frank said, "That was the damnd-
est noise I ever heard."
"Like a siren?" Frank thought
Jim Wilson spoke hopefully, as
though wanting somebody to agree
"Not like any I ever heard. Not
like a whistle, either. More of a
"Let's get into that goddam hotel
Jim Wilson's words were cut ofT
by a new welling-up of the melan-
choly howling. It had a new pat-
tern this time. It sounded from
many places; not nearer, Frank
thought, than Lake Street on the
north, but spreading outward and
backward and growing fainter until
it died on the wind.
Nora was shivering, clinging to
Frank without reserve.
Jim Wilson said, "I'll be damned
if it doesn't sound like a signal of
"Maybe it's a language — a way of
"But who the hell's communicat-
"How would I know?"
"We best get to that hotel and
bar a few doors. A man can't fight
in the dark — and nothing to fight
They hurried up the street, but it
was all different now. Gone was
the illusion of being alone ; gone the
sense of solitude. Around them the
ghost town had come suddenly
alive. Sinister forces more frighten-
ing than the previous solitude had
now to be reckoned with.
"Something's happened — some-
thing in the last few minutes," Nora
Frank leaned close as they crossed
the street to the dark silent pile that
was the Morrison hotel. "I think I
know what you mean."
"It's as though there was no one
around and then, suddenly, they
"I think they came and went
"Did you actually see anyone
when you flashed your light?"
"No — I can't say positively that I
did. But I got the impression there
were figures out there — at least doz-
ens of them— and that they moved
back away from the light. Always
just on the edge of it."
"I'm scared, Frank."
"So am I."
"Do you think it could all be
"Those moans? Maybe the first
one — I've heard of people imagin-
ing sounds. But not the last ones.
And besides, we all heard them."
Jim Wilson, utterly oblivious of
any subtle emanations in the air,
boomed out in satisfaction: "We
don't have to bust the joint open.
The revolving door works."
"Then maybe we ought to be
careful," Frank said. "Maybe some-
body else is around here."
"Could be. We'll find out."
"Why are we afraid?" Nora whis-
"It's natural, isn't it?" Frank
melted the beam of his light with
that of Jim Wilson. The white fin-
ger pierced the darkness inside.
"I don't see why it should be. If
there are people in there they must
be as scared as we are."
Nora was very close to him as
The lobby seemed deserted. The
flashlight beams scanned the empty
chairs and couches. The glass of the
deserted cages threw back reflec-
"The keys are in there," Frank
said. He vaulted the desk and
scanned the numbers under the
"We'd better stay down low,"
Jim Wilson said. "Damned if I'm
going to climb to the penthouse."
"How about the fourth floor?"
"That's plenty high enough."
Frank came out with a handful
of keys. "Odd numbers," he said.
"Four in a row."
' "Well I'll be damned," Jim Wil-
son muttered. But he said no more
and they climbed the stairs in si-
lence. They passed the quiet dining
rooms and banquet halls, and by
the time they reached the fourth
floor the doors giving off the corri-
dors had assumed a uniformity.
"Here they are." He handed a
key to Wilson. "That's the end
one." He said nothing as he gave
Minna her key, but Wilson grunted,
"For crissake!" in a disgusted voice,
took Minna's key and threw it on
Frank and Nora watched as Wil-
son unlocked his door. Wilson
turned. "Well, goodnight all. If
you get goosed by any spooks, just
Minna followed him without a
word and the door closed.
Frank handed Nora her key.
"Lock your door and you'll be safe.
I'll check the room first." He un-
locked the door and flashed his light
inside. Nora was close behind him
as he entered. He checked the bath-
room. "Everything clear. Lock your
door and you'll be safe."
"I'm afraid to stay alone."
"You mean you want me to — "
"There are two beds here."
His reply was slow in coming.
Nora didn't wait for it. Her voice
rose to the edge of hysteria. "Quit
being so damned righteous. Things
have changed! Can't you realize
that? What does it matter how or
where we sleep? Does the world
care? Will it make a damn bit of
difference to the world whether I
strip stark naked in front of you?"
A sob choked in her throat. "Or
would that outrage your morality."
He moved toward her, stopped
six inches away. "It isn't that. For
God's sake! I'm no saint. It's just
that I thought you — "
"I'm plain scared, and I don't
want to be alone. To me that's all
Her face was against his chest
and his arms went around her. But
her own hands were fists held to-
gether against him until he could
feel her knuckles, hard, against his
chest. She was crying,
"Sure," Frank said. "I'll stay
with you. Now take it easy. Every-
thing's going to be all right."
Nora sniffled without bothering
to reach for ' her handkerchief.
"Stop lying. You know it isn't going
to be all right."
Frank was at somewhat of a loss.
This flareup of Nora's was entirely
unexpected. He eased toward the
place the flashlight had shown the
bed to be. Her legs hit its edge and
she sat down.
"You — ^you want me to sleep in
the other one?" he asked.
"Of course," Nora replied with
marked bitterness. "I'm afraid you
wouldn't be very comfortable in
There was a time of silence.
Frank took off his jacket, shirt and
trousers. It was funny, he thought.
He'd spent his money, been
drugged, beaten and robbed as a re-
sult of one objective — to get into a
room alone with a girl. And a girl
not nearly as nice as Nora at that.
Now, here he was alone with a real
dream, and he was tongue-tied. It
didn't make sense. He shrugged.
Life was crazy sometimes.
He heard the rustle of garments
and wondered how much Nora was
taking off. Then he dropped his
trousers, forgotten, to the floor.
"Did you hear that?"
"Yes. It's that—"
Frank went to the window, raised
the sash. The moaning sound came
in louder, but it was from far dis-
tance. "I think that's out around
Frank felt a warmth on his cheek
and he realized Nora was by his
side, leaning forward. He put an
arm around her and they stood un-
moving in complete silence. Al-
though their ears were straining for
the sound coming down from the
north, Frank could not be oblivious
of the warm flesh under his hand.
Nora's breathing was soft against
his cheek. She said, "Listen to how
it rises and falls. It's almost as
though they were using it to talk
with. The inflection changes,"
"I think that's what it is. It's
coming from a lot of different
places. It stops in some places and
starts in others."
"It's so — ^weird."
"Spooky," Frank said, "but in a
way it makes me feel better.'"
"I don't see how it could." Nora
pressed closer to him.
"It does though, because of what
I was afraid of. I had it figured out
that the city was going to blow up
— ^that a bomb had been planted
that they couldn't find, or some-
thing like that. Now, I'm pretty
sure it's something else. I'm willing
to bet we'll be alive in the morn-
Nora thought that over in si-
lence. "If that's the way it is — if
some kind of invaders are coming
down from the north — isn't it
stupid to stay here? Even if we are
tired we ought to be trying to get
away from them."
"I was thinking the same thing.
I'll go and talk to Wilson."
They crossed the room together
and he left her by the bed and went
on to the door. Then he remem-
bered he was in his shorts and went
back and got his trousers. After
he'd put them on, he wondered
why he'd bothered. He opened the
Something warned him — some
instinct — or possibly his natural
fear and caution coincided with
the presence of danger. He heard
the footsteps on the carpeting
down the hall — soft, but unmis-
takably footsteps. He called, "Wil-
son — Wilson — that you?"
The creature outside threw cau-
tion to the winds, Frank sensed
rather than heard a body hurtling
toward the door. A shrill, mad
laughter raked his ears and the
weight of a body hit the door.
Frank drew strength from pure
panic as he threw his weight against
the panel, but perhaps an inch or
two from the latch the door
wavered from opposing strength.
Through the narrow opening he
could feel the hoarse breath of exer-
tion in his face. Insane giggles and
curses sounded through the black
Frank had the wild conviction he
was losing the battle, and added
strength came from somewhere. He
heaved and there was a scream and
he knew he had at least one finger
caught between the door and the
jamb. He threw his weight against
the door with frenzied effort and
heard the squash of the finger. The
voice kited up to a shriek of agony,
like that of a wounded animal.
Even with his life at stake, and
the life of Nora, Frank could not
deliberately slice the man's fingers
off. Even as he fought the urge, and
called himself a fool, he allowed
the door to give slightly inward.
The hand was jerked to safety.
At that moment another door
opened close by and Jim Wilson's
voice boomed : "What the hell's go-
ing on out here?"
Simultaneous with this, racing
footsteps receded down the hall and
from the well of the stairway came
a whining cry of pain.
"Jumping jees!" Wilson bel-
lowed. "We got company. We ain't
"He tried to get into my room."
"You shouldn't have opened the
door. Nora okay?"
"Yeah. She's all right."
"Tell her to stay in her room.
And you do the same. We'd be
crazy to go after that coot in the
dark. He'll keep 'til morning."
Frank closed the door, double-
locked it and went back to Nora's
bed. He could hear a soft sobbing.
He reached down and pulled back
the covers and the sobbing came
louder. Then he was down on the
bed and she was in his arms.
She cried until the panic sub-
sided, while he held her and said
nothing. After a while she got con-
trol of herself. "Don't leave me,
Frank," she begged. "Please don't
He stroked her shoulder. "I
won't," he whispered.
They lay for a long time in utter
silence, each seeking strength in the
other's closeness. The silence was
finally broken by Nora.
"Do you want me?"
He did not answer.
"If you want me you can have
Frank said nothing.
"I told you today that I tried to
commit suicide. Remember?"
"That was the truth. I did it be-
cause I was tired of everything. Be-
cause I've made a terrible mess of
things. I didn't want to go on liv-
He remained silent, holding her.
As she spoke again, her voice
sharpened. "Can't you understand
what I'm telling you? I'm no good!
I'm just a bum! Other men have
had me! Why shouldn't you? Why
should you be cheated out of what
other men have had?"
He remained silent. After a few
moments, Nora said, "For God's
sake, talk! Say something!"
"How do you feel about it now?
Will you try again to kill yourself
the next chance you get?"
"No — no, I don't think I'll ever
try it again."
"Then things must look better."
"I don't know anything about
that. I just don't want to do it
She did not urge him this time
and he was slow in speaking. "It's
kind of funny. It really is. Don't
get the idea I've got morals. I
haven't. I've had my share of wom-
en. I was working on one the night
they slipped me the mickey — the
night before I woke up to this tomb
of a city. But now — tonight — its
kind of different. I feel like I want
to protect you. Is that strange?"
"No," she said quietly. "I guess
They lay there silently, their
thoughts going off into the black-
ness of the sepulchral night. After
a long while, Nora's even breathing
told him she was asleep. He got up
quietly, covered her, and went to
the other bed.
But before he slept, the weird
wailings from out Evanston way
came again — rose and fell in that
strange conversational cadence-
then died away into nothing.
FRANK AWOKE to the first fin-
gers of daylight. Nora still slept.
He dressed and stood for some mo-
ments with his hand on the door
knob. Then he threw the bolt and
cautiously opened the door.
The hallway was deserted. At
this point it came to him forcibly
that he was not a brave man. All his
life, he realized, he had avoided
physical danger and had refused to
recognize the true reason for so do-
ing. He had classified himself as a
man who dodged trouble through
good sense; that the truly civilized
person went out of his way to keep
He realized now that that atti-
tude was merely salve for his ego.
He faced the empty corridor and
did not wish to proceed further.
But stripped of the life-long alibi,
he forced himself to walk through
the doorway, close the door softly,
and move toward the stairs.
He paused in front of the door
behind which Jim Wilson and Min-
na were no doubt sleeping. He
stared at it wistfully. It certainly
would not be a mark of cowardice
to get Jim Wilson up under circum-
stances such as these. In fact, he
would be a fool not to do so.
Stubbornness forbade such a
move, however. He walked softly
toward the place where the hallway
dead-ended and became a cross-
corridor. He made the turn care-
fully, pressed against one wall.
There was no one in sight. He got
to the stairway and started down.
His muscles and nerves tightened
with each step. When he reached
the lobby he was ready to jump sky-
high at the drop of a pin.
But no one dropped any pins,
and he reached the modernistic
glass doorway to the drugstore with
only silence screaming in his ears.
The door was unlocked. One hinge
squeaked slightly as he pushed the
It was in the drugstore that
Frank found signs of the fourth-
floor intruder. An inside counter
near the prescription department
was red with blood. Bandages and
first-aid supplies had been unboxed
and thrown around with abandon.
Here the man had no doubt admin-
istered to his smashed hand.
But where had he gone? Asleep,
probably, in one of the rooms up-
stairs. Frank wished fervently for a
weapon. Beyond doubt there was
not a gun left in the Loop.
A gun was not the only weapon
ever created, though, and Frank
searched the store and found a line
of pocket knives still in neat boxes
near the perfume counter.
He picked four of the largest and
found, also, a wooden-handled,
lead-tipped bludgeon, used evi-
dently for cracking ice.
Thus armed, he went out through
the revolving door. He walked
through streets that were like death
under the climbing sun. Through
streets and canyons of dead build-
ings upon which the new daylight
had failed to shed life or diminish
the terror of the night past.
At Dearborn he found the door
to the Tribune Public Service
Building locked. He used the ice
breaker to smash a glass door panel.
The crash of the glass on the
cement was an explosion in the
screaming silence. He went inside.
Here the sense of desolation was
complete; brought sharply to focus,
probably, by the pigeon holes filled
with letters behind the want-ad
counter. Answers to a thousand and
one queries, waiting patiently for
someone to come after them.
Before going to the basement
and the back files of the Chicago
Tribune, Frank climbed to the sec-
ond floor and found what he
tlinuEjht might be there — a row of
t('li'l\j)e machines with a file-board
hooked to the side of each machine.
Swiftly, he stripped the copy
sheets off each board, made a bun-
dle of them and went back down-
stairs. He covered the block back
to the hotel at a dog-trot, filled with
a sudden urge to get back to the
fourth floor as soon as possible.
He stopped in the drugstore and
filled his pockets with soap, a razor,
shaving cream and face lotion. As
an afterthought, he picked up a
lavish cosmetic kit that retailed, ac-
cording to the price tag, for thirty-
eight dollars plus tax.
He let himself back into the room
and closed the door softly. Nora
rolled over, exposing a shoulder and
one breast. The breast held his gaze
for a full minute. Then a feeling of
guilt swept him and he went into
the bathroom and closed the door.
Luckily, a supply tank on the
roof still contained water and
Frank was able to shower and
shave. Dressed again, he felt like a
new man. But he regretted not
hunting up a haberdashery shop
and getting himself a clean shirt.
Nora had still not awakened
when he came out of the bathroom.
He went to the bed and stood look-
ing down at her for some time.
Then he touched her shoulder.
"Wake up. It's morning."
Nora stirred. Her eyes opened,
but Frank got the impression she
did not really awaken for several
seconds. Her eyes went to his face,
to the window, back to his face.
"What time is it?"
"I don't know. I think it's around
Nora stretched both arms luxuri-
ously. As she sat up, her slip fell
back into place and Frank got the
impression she hadn't even been
ware of her partial nudity.
She stared up at him, clarity
dawning in her eyes, "You're all
vli aned up."
"I went downstairs and got some
"You went out — alone?"
"Why not. We can't stay in here
all day. We've got to hit the road
and get out of here. We've overshot
our luck already."
"But that — that man in the hall
last night! You shouldn't have
taken a chance."
"I didn't bump into him. I found
the place he fixed his hand, down in
Frank went to the table and came
back with the cosmetic set. He put
it in Nora's lap. "I brought this up
Surprise and true pleasure were
mixed in her expression. "That was
very nice. I think I'd better get
Frank turned toward the window
where he had left the bundle of tele-
type clips. "I've got a little reading
As he sat down, he saw, from the
corner of his eye, a flash of slim
brown legs moving toward the
bathroom. Just inside the door,
Nora turned. "Are Jim Wilson and
Minna up yet?"
"I don't think so."
Nora's eyes remained on him. "I
think you were very brave to go
downstairs alone. But it was a fool-
ish thing to do. You should have
waited for Jim Wilson."
"You're right about it being fool-
ish. But I had to go."
"Because I'm not brave at all.
Mnybe that was the reason."
Nora left the bathroom door
open about six inches and Frank
heard the sound of the shower. He
sat with the papers in his hand won-
dering about the water. When he
had gone to the bathroom the
thought had never occurred to him.
It was natural that it should. Now
he wondered about it. Why was it
still running? After a while he con-
sidered the possibility of the supply
tank on the roof.
Then he wondered about Nora.
It was strange how he could think
about her personally and imper-
sonally at the same time. He re-
membered her words of the previ-
ous night. They made her — he shied
from the term. What was the old
cliche? A woman of easy virtue.
What made a woman of that
type, he wondered. Was it some-
thing inherent in their makeup?
That partially opened door was
symbolic somehow. He was sure
that many wives closed the bath-
room door upon their husbands;
did it without thinking, instinctive-
ly. He was sure Nora had left it
partially open without thinking.
Could a behavior pattern be traced
from such an insignificant thing?
He wondered about his own at-
titude toward Nora. He had drawn
away from what she'd offered him
during the night. And yet from no
sense of disgust. There was certainly
far more about Nora to attract than
Morals, he realized dimly, were
imposed — or at least functioned — '
for the protection of society. With
society gone — vanished overnight
— did the moral code still hold?
If and when they got back among
masses of people, would his feelings
toward Nora change? He thought
not. He would marry her, he told
Shimself firmly, as quick as he'd
marry any other girl. He would not
hold what she was against her. I
guess I'm just fundamentally un-
moral myself, he thought, and be-
gan reading the news clips.
THERE WAS a knock on the
door accompanied by the boom-
ing voice of Jim Wilson. "You in
there! Ready for breakfast?"
Frank got up and walked toward
the door. As he did so, the door to
the bathroom closed.
Jim Wilson wore a two-day
growth of beard and it didn't seem
to bother him at all. As he entered
the room he rubbed his hands to-
gether in great gusto. "Well,
where'U we eat, folks? Let's pick
the classiest restaurant in town.
Nothing but the best for Minna
He winked broadly as Minna, ex-
pressionless and silent, followed
him in exactly as a shadow would
have followed him and sat primly
down in a straight-backed chair by
"We'd better start moving
south," Frank said, "and not bother
"Getting scared?" Jim Wilson
"You're damn right I'm scared —
now. We're right in the middle of a
"I don't get you."
At that moment the bathroom
door opened and Nora came out.
Jim Wilson forgot about the ques-
tion he'd asked. He let forth a loud
whistle of appreciation. Then he
turned his eyes on Frank and his
thought was crystal clear. He was
envying Frank the night just passed.
A sudden irritation welled up in
Frank Brooks, a distinct feeling of
disgust. "Let's start worrying about
important things— our lives. Or
don't you consider your life very im-
Jim Wilson seemed puzzled.
"What the hell's got into you?
Didn't you sleep good?"
"I went down the block this
morning and found some teletype
machines. I've just been reading
"What about that guy that tried
to get into your room last night?"
"I didn't see him. I didn't see
anybody. But I know why the city's
been cleaned out." Frank went back
to the window and picked up the
sheaf on clips he had gone through.
Jim Wilson sat down on the edge
of the bed, frowning. Nora fol-
lowed Frank and perched on the
edge of the chair he dropped into.
"The city going to blow up?"
"No. We've been invaded by
some form of alien life."
"Is that what the papers said?"
"It was the biggest and fastest
mass evacuation ever attempted. I
pieced the reports together. There
was hell popping around here dur-
ing the two days we — we waited it
"Where did they all go?" Nora
"South. They've evacuated a
forty-mile strip from the lake west.
The first Terran defense line is set
up in northern Indiana."
"What do you mean — Terra."
"It's a word that means Earth —
this planet. The invaders came from
some other planet, they think— at
least from no place on Earth."
"That's the silliest damn thing I
ever heard of," Wilson said.
"A lot of people probably thought
the same thing," Frank replied.
"Flying saucers were pretty com-
mon. Nobody thought they were
anything and nobody paid much at-
tention. Then they hit — three days
ago — and wiped out every living
soul in three little southern Mich-
igan towns. From there they began
spreading out. They — "
Each of them heard the sound at
the same time. A faint rumble, in-
creasing swiftly into high thunder.
They moved as one to the window
and saw four jet planes, in forma-
tion, moving across the sky from the
"There they come," Frank said.
"The fight's started. Up to now the
army has been trying to get set, I
Nora said, "Is there any way we
can hail them? Let them know — "
Her words were cut off by the
horror of what happened. As they
watched, the plane skimmed low
across the Loop. At a point, ap-
proximately over Lake Street,
Frank estimated, the planes were
annihilated. There was a flash of
blue fire coming in like jagged
lightning to form four balls of fire
around the planes. The fire balls
turned, almost instantly, into globes
of white smoke that drifted lazily
And that was all. But the planes
"What happened?" Wilson mut-
tered. "Where'd they go?"
"It was as if they hit a wall,"'
Nora said, her voice hushed with
"I think that was what hap-
pened," Frank said. "The invaders
have some kind of a weapon that
holds us helpless. Otherwise the
army wouldn't have established this
no-man's-land and pulled out. The
reports said we have them sur-
rounded on all sides with the help
of the lake. We're trying, to keep
Jim Wilson snorted. "It looks like
we've got them right where they
"Anyhow, we're damn fools to
stick around here. We'd better head
Wilson looked wistfully about the
room. "I guess so, but it's a shame
— walking away from all this."
Nora was staring out the win-
dow, a small frown on her face. "I
wonder who they are and where
they came from?"
"The teletype releases were
pretty vague on that."
She turned quickly. "There's
something peculiar about them.
Something really strange."
"What do you mean?"
"Last night when we were w.alk-
ing up the street. It must have been
these invaders we heard. They must
have been across the street. But they
didn't act like invaders. They
seemed — well, scared. I got the
feeling they ran from us in panic.
And they haven't been back."
Wilson said, "They may not have
been there at all. Probably our
"I don't think so," Frank cut in.
"They were there and then they
were gone. I'm sure of it."
"Those wailing noises. They
were certainly signalling to each
other. Do you suppose that's the
only language they have?" Nora
walked over and offered the silent
Minna a cigarette. Minna refused
with a shake of her head.
"I wish we knew what they
looked like/' Frank said. "But let's
not sit here talking. Let's get go-
Jim Wilson was scowling. There
was a roarked sullenness in his man-
ner. "Not Minna and me. I've
changed my mind. I'm sticking
Frank blinked in surprise. "Are
you crazy? We've run our luck out
already. Did you see what hap-
pened to those planes?"
"The hell with the planes. We've
got it good here. This I like. I like
it a lot. We'll stay."
"Okay," Frank replied hotly,
"but talk for yourself. You're not
making Minna stay!"
Wilson's eyes narrowed. "I'm
not? Look, buster — how about
minding your own goddam busi-
The vague feelings of disgust
Frank had had now crystallized into
words. "I won't let you get away
with it! You think I'm blind? Haul-
ing her into the back room every
ten minutes! Don't you think I
know why? You're nothing but a
damn sex maniac! You've got her
terrorized until she's afraid to open
her mouth. She goes with us!"
Jim Wilson was on his feet. His
face blazed with rage. The urge to
kill was written in the crouch of his
body and the twist of his mouth.
"You goddam nosey little squirt.
Wilson charged across the short,
intervening distance. His arms went
out in a clutching motion.
But Frank Brooks wasn't full of
knockout drops this time, and with
a clear head he was no pushover.
Blinded with rage, Jim Wilson was
a pushover. Frank stepped in be-
tween his outstretched arms and
slugged him squarely on top of the
head with the telephone. Wilson
went down like a felled steer.
The scream came from Minna as
she sprang across the room. She had
turned from a colorless rag doll into
a tigress. She -hit Frank square in
the belly with small fists at the end
of stiff, outstretched arms. The full
force of her charge was behind the
fists, and Frank went backward
over the bed,
Minna did not follow up her at-
tack. She dropped to the floor be-
side Jim Wilson and took his huge
head in her lap. "You killed him,"
she sobbed. "You — you murderer!
You killed him! You had no right!"
Frank sat wide-eyed. "Minna!
For God's sake! I was helping you.
I did it for you!"
"Why don't you mind your busi-
ness? I didn't ask you to protect
me? I don't need any protection —
not from Jim."
"You mean you didn't mind the
way he's treated you — "
"You've killed him — skilled him
— " Minna raised her head slowly.
She looked at Frank as though she
saw him for the first time. "You're
a fool," she said dully. "A big fool.
What right have you got to meddle
with other people's affairs? Are you
God or something, to run people's
It was as though he hadn't
spoken. "Do you know what it's like
to have nobody? All your life to go
on and grow older without any-
body? I didn't have no one and
then Jim came along and wanted
Frank walked close to her and
bent down. She reacted like a tiger.
"Leave him alone! Leave him
alone! You've done enough!"
Nonplused, Frank backed away.
"People with big noses — always
sticking them in. That's you. Was
that any of your business what he
wanted of me? Did I complain?"
"I'm sorry, Minna. I didn't
"I'd rather go into back rooms
with him than stay in front rooms
She began to cry now. Wordless-
ly — soundlessly, rocking back and
forth with the huge man's bloody
head in her lap. "Anytime," she
crooned. "Anytime I would — "
The body in her arms stirred. She
looked down through her tears and
saw the small black eyes open. They
were slightly crossed, unfocused as
they were by the force of the blow.
They straightened and Jim mum-
bled, "What the hell — ^what the
Minna's time for talking seemed
over. She smiled — a smile hardly
perceptible, as though it was for
herself alone. "You're all right," she
said. "That's good. You're all
Jim pushed her roughly away
and staggered to his feet. He stood
swaying for a moment, his head
turning ; for all the world like a bull
blinded and tormented. Then his
eyes focused on Frank.
"You hit me with the' goddam
"Yeah— I hit you."
"I'm gonna kill you."
"Look — I made a mistake."
Frank picked up the phone and
backed against the wall. "I hit you,
but you were coming at me. I made
a mistake and I'm sorry."
"I'll smash your goddam skull."
"Maybe you will," Frank said
grimly. "But you'll work for it. It
won't come easy."
A new voice bit across the room.
"Cut it out. I'll do the killing.
That's what I like best. Everybody
They turned and saw a slim,
pale-skinned young man in the
open doorway. The door had
opened quietly and no one had
heard it. Now the pale young man
was standing in the room with a
small, nickle-plated revolver in his
The left hand was close down at
his side. It was swathed generously
in white bandage.
The young man chuckled. "The
last four people in the world were
in a room," he said, "and there was
a knock on the door."
His chuckle deepened to one of
pure merriment. "Only there wasn't
a knock. A man just walked in with
a gun that made him boss."
No one moved. No one spoke.
The man waited, then went on:
"My name is Leroy Davis. I lived
out west and I always had a keeper
because they said I wasn't quite
right. They wanted me to pull out
with the rest of them, but I slugged
my keeper and here I am."
"Put down the gun and we'll talk
it over," Frank said. "We're all in
"No, we aren't. I've got a gun, so
that makes me top man. You're all
in it together, but I'm not. I'm the
boss, and which one of you tried to
cut my hand off last night."
"You tried to break in here yell-
ing and screaming like a madman.
I held the door. What else rould I
"It's all right. I'm not rnad. My
type — we may be nuts, but we never
hold a grudge. I can't remember
much about last night. I found
some whisky in a place down the
street and whisky drives me nuts. I
don't know what I'm doing when I
drink whisky. They say once about
five years ago I got drunk and
killed a little kid. but T don't re-
"I got out of it. They got me out
some way. High priced lawyers got
me out. Cost my dad a pile."
Hysteria had been piling up in-
side of Nora. She had held it back,
but now a little of it spurted out
from between her set teeth. "Do
something, somebody. Isn't any-
body goin^ to do anything?"
Leroy Davis blinked at her.
"There's nothing they can do.
honey," he said in a kindly voice.
"I've got the gun. They'd be crazy
to try anything."
Nora's laugh was like the rattle
of dry peas. She sat down on the
bed and looked up at the ceiling
and laughed. "It's crazy. It's all so
crazy! We're sitting here in a
doomed city with some kind of alien
invaders all around us and we don't
know what they look like. They
haven't hurt us at all. We don't
even know what they look like. We
don't worry a bit about them be-
cause we're too busy trying to kill
Frank Brooks took Nora by the
arm. "Stop it! Quit laughing like
Nora shook him off. "Maybe we
need someone to take us over. It's
all pretty crazy!"
Nora's eyes dulled down as she
looked at Frank. She dropped her
head and seemed a little ashamed
of herself. "I'm sorry. I'll be quiet."
Jim Wilson had been standing by
the wall looking first at the new-
comer, then back at Frank Brooks.
Wilson seemed confused as to who
his true enemy really was. Finally
he took a step toward Leroy Davis.
Frank Brooks stopped him with a
motion, but kept his eyes on Davis.
"Have you seen anybody else?"
Davis regarded Frank with long,
careful consideration. His eyes were
bright and birdlike. They reminded
Frank of a squirrel's eyes. Davis
said, "I bumped into an old man
out on Halstead Street. He wanted
to know where everybody had gone.
He asked me, but I didn't know."
"What happened to the old
man?" Nora asked. She asked the
question as though dreading to do
it; but as though some compulsion
forced her to speak.
"I shot him," Davis said cheer-
fully. "It was a favor, really. Here
was this old man staggering down
the street with nothing but a lot of
wasted years to show for his efforts.
He was no good alive, and he didn't
have the courage to die." Davis
stopped and cocked his head bright-
ly. "You know — I think that's
what's been wrong with the world.
Too many people without the guts
to die, and a law against killing
It had now dawned upon Jim
Wilson that they were faced by a
maniac. His eyes met those of Frank
Brooks and they were — on this point
at least — in complete agreement. A
working procedure sprang up, un-
worded, between them. Jim Wilson
took a slow, casual step toward the
"You didn't see anyone else?"
Davis ignored the question.
"Look at it this way," he said. "In
the old days they had Texas long
horns. Thin stringy cattle that gave
up meat as tough as leather. Do we
have cattle like that today? No.
Because we bred out the weak line."
Frank said, "There are some cig-
arettes on that table if you want
Jim Wilson took another slow
step toward Davis.
IDavis said, "We bred with intelli-
gence, with a thought to what a
steer was for and we produced a
walking chunk of meat as wide as it
"Uh-huh," Frank said.
"Get the point? See what I'm
driving at? Humans are more im-
portant than cattle, but can we
make them breed intelligently? Oh,
no! That interferes with damn silly
human liberties. You can't tell a
man he can only have two kids. It's
his God-given right to have twelve
when the damn moron can't sup-
port three. Get what I mean?"
"Sure — sure, I get it."
"You better think it over, mister
— and tell that fat bastard to quit
sneaking up on me or I'll blow his
brains all over the carpet!"
If the situation hadn't been so
grim it would have appeared ludi-
crous. Jim Wilson, feeling success
almost in his grasp, was balanced
on tiptoe for a lunge. He teetered,
almost lost his balance and fell back
against the wall.
"Take it easy," Frank said.
"I'll take it easy," Davis replied.
"I'll kill every goddam one of you
— " he pointed the gun at Jim Wil-
son. " — starting with him."
"Now wait a minute," Frank
said. "You're unreasonable. What
right have you got to do that? What
about the law of survival? You're
standing there with a gun on us.
You're going to kill us. Isn't it nat-
ural to try anything we can to save
our own lives?"
A look of admiration brightened
Davis' eyes. "Say! I like you.
You're all right. You're logical. A
man can talk to you. If there's any-
thing I like it's talking to a logical
"Too bad I'm going to have to
kill you. We could sit down and
have some nice long talks together."
"Why do you want to kill us?"
Minna asked. She had not spoken
before. In fact, she had spoken so
seldom during the entire time they'd
been together that her voice was a
novelty to Frank. He was inclined
to discount her tirade on the floor
with Wilson's head In her lap. She
had been a different person then.
Now she had lapsed back into her
Davis regarded thoughtfully.
"Must you have a reason?"
"You should have a reason to kill
Davis said, "All right, if it will
make you any happier. I told you
about killing my keeper when they
tried to make me leave town. He
got in the car, behind the wheel. I
got into the back seat and split his
skull with a tire iron."
"What's that got to do with us?"
"Just this. Tommy was a better
person than anyone of you or all of
you put together. If he had to die,
what right have you got to live? Is
that enough of a reason for you?"
"This is all too damn crazy," Jim
Wilson roared. He was on the point
of leaping at Davis and his gun.
At that moment, from the north,
came a sudden crescendo of the
weird invader wailings. It was
louder than it had previously been
but did not seem nearer.
The group froze, all ears trained
upon the sound. "They're talking
again," Nora whispered.
"Uh-huh," Frank replied. "But
it's different this time. As if — "
"—as if they were getting ready
for something," Nora said. "Do you
suppose they're going to move
Davis said, "I'm not going to kill
you here. We're going down stairs."
The pivotal moment, hinged in
Jim Wilson's mind, that could have
changed the situation, had come
and gone. The fine edge of addi-
tional madness that would make a
man hurl himself at a loaded gun,
was dulled. Leroy Davis motioned
pre-emptorily toward Minna.
"You first — then the other babe.
You walk side by side down the hall
with the men behind you. Straight
down to the lobby."
They complied without resist-
ance. There was only Jim Wilson's
scowl, Frank Brooks' clouded eyes,
and the white, taut look of Nora.
Nora's mind was not on the gun.
It was filled with thoughts of the
pale maniac who held it. He was in
command. Instinctively, she felt
that maniacs in command have one
of but two motivations — sex and
murder. Her reaction to possible
murder was secondary. But what if
this man insisted upon laying his
hands upon her. What if he forced
her into the age old thing she had
done so often? Nora shuddered.
But it was also in her mind to ques-
tion, and be surprised at the reason
for her revulsion. She"visualized the
hands upon her body — the old fa-
miliar things, and the taste in her
mouth was one of horror.
She had never experienced such
shrinkings before. Why now. Had
she herself changed? Had some-
thing happened during the night
that made the past a time of shame?
Or was it the madman himself? She
did not know.
Nora returned from her musings
to find herself standing in the empty
lobby. Leroy Davis, speaking to
Frank, was saying. "You look kind
of tricky to me. Put your hands on
your head. Lock your fingers to-
gether over your head and keep
your hands there."
Jim Wilson was standing close to
the mute Minna. She had followed
all the orders without any show of
anger, with no outward expression.
Always she had kept her eyes on
Jim Wilson. Obviously, whatever
Jim ordered, she would have done
Wilson leaned his head down to-
ward her. He said, "Listen, baby,
there's something I keep meaning
to ask but I always forget it. What's
your last name?"
"Trumble — Minna Trumble. I
thought I told you."
"Maybe you did. Maybe I didn't
Nora felt the hysteria welling
again. "How long are you going to
keep doing this?" she asked.
Leroy Davis cocked his head as
he looked at her. "Doing what?"
"Play cat and mouse like this.
Holding us on a pin like flies in an
Leroy Davis smiled brightly.
"Like a butterfly in your case,
honey. A big, beautiful butterfly."
"What are you going to do,"
Frank Brooks snapped. "Whatever
it is, let's get it over with?"
"Can't you see what I'm doing?"
Davis asked with genuine wonder.
"Are you that stupid? I'm being the
boss. I'm in command and I like it.
I hold life and death over four peo-
ple and I'm savoring the thrill of it.
You're pretty stupid, mister, and if
you use that 'can't get away with it'
line, I'll put a bullet into your left
ear and watch it come out your
Jim Wilson's fists were doubled.
He was again approaching the
reckless point. And again it was
dulled by the gradually increasing
sound of a motor — not in the air,
but from the street level to the
It was a sane, cheerful sound and
was resented instantly by the insane
mind of Leroy Davis.
He tightened even to the point
that his face grew more pale from
the tension. He backed to a win-
dow, looked out quickly, and turned
back. "It's a jeep," he said.
"They're going by the hotel. If any-
body makes a move, or yells, they'll
find four bodies in here and me
gone. That's what I'm telling you
and you know I'll do it."
They knew he woul4 do it and
they stood silent, trying to dredge
up the nerve to make a move. The
jeep's motor backfired a couple of
times as it approached Madison
Street. Each time, Leroy Davis'
nerves reacted sharply and the four
people kept their eyes trained on
the gun in his hand.
The jeep came to the intersection
and slowed down. There was a con-
ference between its two occupants
— helmeted soldiers in dark brown
battle dress. Then the jeep moved
on up Clark Street toward Lake.
A choked sigh escaped from
Nora's throat. Frank Brooks turned
toward her. "Take it easy," he said.
"We're not dead yet. I don't thinlt
he wants to kill us."
The reply came from Minna.
She spoke quietly. "I don't care. I
can't stand any more of this. After
all, we aren't animals. We're hu-
man beings and we have a right to
live and die as we please."
Minna walked toward Leroy
Davis. "I'm not afraid of your gun
any more. All you can do with it is
kill me. Go ahead and do it."
Minna walked up to Leroy
Davis. He gaped at her and said,
"You're crazy! Get back there.
You're a crazy dame!"
He fired the gun twice and Min-
na died appreciating the incon-
gruity of his words. She went out
on a note of laughter and as she fell,
Jim Wilson, with an echoing animal
roar, lunged at Leroy Davis. His
great hand closed completely over
that of Davis, hiding the gun.
There was a muffled explosion and
the bullet cut unnoticed through
Wilson's palm. Wilson jerked the
gun from Davis' weak grasp and
hurled it away. Then he killed
He did it slowly, a surprising
thing for Wilson. He lifted Davis
by his neck and held him with his
feet off the floor. He squeezed
Davis' neck, seeming to do it with
great leisure as Davis made horrible
noises and kicked his legs.
Nora turned her eyes away,
buried them in Frank Brooks' shoul-
der, but she could not keep the
sounds from reaching her ears.
Frank held her close. "Take it
easy," he said. "Take it easy." And
he was probably not conscious of
"Tell him to hurry," Nora whis-
pered. "Tell him to get it over with.
It's like killing — ^killing an animal."
"That's what he is — an animal."
Frank Brooks stared in fascina-
tion at Letoy Davis' distorted, dark-
ening face. It was beyond sem-
blance of anything human now.
The eyes bulged and the tongue
came from his mouth as though
frantically seeking relief.
The animal sounds quieted and
died away. Nora heard the sound
of the body falling to the floor — a
limp, soft sound of finality. She
turned and saw Jim Wilson with
his hands still extended and cupped.
The terrible hands from which the
stench of a terrible life was drifting
away into empty air.
Wilson looked down at his handi-
work. "He's dead," Wilson said
slowly. He turned to face Frank
and Nora. There was a great dis-
appointment in his face. "That's
all there is to it," he said, dully.
"He's just — dead." Without know-
ing it for what it was, Jim Wilson
was full of the futile aftertaste of
He bent down to pick up Min-
na's body. There was a small blue
hole in the right cheek and another
one over the left eye. With a glance
at Frank and Nora, Jim Wilson
covered the wounds with his hand
as though they were not decent. He
picked her up in his arms and
walked across the lobby and up the
stairs with the slow, quiet tread of a
The sound of the jeep welled up
again, but it was further away now.
Frank Brooks took Nora's hand and
they hurried out into the street. As
they crossed the sidewalk, the sound
of the jeep was drowned by a sud-
den swelling of the wailings to the
On still a new note, they rose and
fell on the still air. A note of panic,
of new knowledge, it seemed, but
Frank and Nora were not paying
close attention. The sounds of the
jeep motor had come from the west
and they got within sight of the
Madison-Well intersection in time
to see the jeep hurtle southward at
its maximum speed.
Frank yelled and waved his arms,
but he knew he had been neither
seen nor heard. They were given lit-
tle time for disappointment how-
ever, because a new center of in-
terest appeared to the northward.
From around the corner of Wash-
ington Street, into Clark, moved
three strange figures.
There was a mixture of belliger-
ence and distress in their actions.
They carried odd looking weapons
and seemed interested in using them
upon something or someone, but
they apparently lacked the energy
to raise them although they ap-
peared to be rather light.
The creatures themselves were
humanoid, Frank thought. He
tightened his grip on Nora's hand.
"They've seen us."
"Let's not run," Nora said. "I'm
tired of running. All it's gotten us is
trouble. Let's just stand here."
"Don't be foolish."
"I'm not running. You can if you
Frank turned his attention back
to the three strange creatures. He
allowed natural curiosity full reign.
Thoughts of flight vanished from
"They're so thin-r^o fragile,"
"But their weapons aren't."
"It's hard to believe, even seeing
them, that they're from another
"How so? They certainly don't
look much like us."
"I mean with the talk, for so
long, about flying saucers and space
flight and things like that. Here
they are, but it doesn't seem possi-
"There's something wrong with
This was true. Two of the strange
beings had fallen to the sidewalk.
The "third came doggedly on, drag-
ging one foot after the other until,
he went to his hands and knees. He
remained motionless for a long
time, his head hanging limply. Then
he too, sank to the cement and lay
The wailings from the north now
took on a tone of intense agony —
great desperation. After that came
a yawning silence»
THEY DEFEATED themselves,"
the military man said. "Of
rather, natural forces defeated
them. We certainly had little to do
Nora, Frank, and Jim Wilson
stood at the curb beside a motor-
cycle. The man on the cycle sup-
ported it with a leg propped against
the curb as he talked.
"We saw three of them die up the
street," Frank said.
"Our scouting party saw the same
thing happen. That's why we
moved in. It's about over now.
We'll know a lot more about them
and where they came from in twen-
They had nothing further to say.
The military man regarded them
thoughtfully. "I don't know about
you three. If you ignored the
evacation through no fault of your
own and can prove it — "
"There were four of us," Jim
Wilson said. "Then we met another
man. He's inside on the floor. I
"Murder?" the military man said
"He killed a woman who was
with us," Frank said. "He was a
maniac. When he's identified I'm
pretty sure he'll have a past record."
"Where is the woman's body?"
"On a bed upstairs," Wilson said.
"I'll have to hold all of you.
Martial law exists in this area.
You're in the hands of the army."
THE STREETS were full of
people now, going about their
business, pushing and jostling, eat-
ing in the restaurants, making elec-
tricity for the lights, generating
power for the telephones.
Nora, Frank, and Jim Wilson sat
in a restaurant on Clark Street.
"We're all different people now,"
Nora said. "No one could go
through what we've been through
and be the same."
Jim Wilson took her statement
listlessly. "Did they find out what it
was about our atmosphere that
"They're still working on that, I
think." Frank Brooks stirred his cof-
fee, raised a spoonful and let it drip
back into the cup.
"I'm going up to the Chicago
Avenue police station," Wilson said.
Frank and Nora looked up in sur-
prise. Frank asked, "Why? The
military court missed it — the fact
you escaped from jail."
"They didn't miss it I don't think.
I don't think they cared much. I'm
going back anyway."
"It won't be much of a rap."
"No, a pretty small one. I want
to get it over with."
He got up from his chair. "So
long. Maybe I'll see you around."
Frank said, "I think I'll beat it
too. I've got a job in a factory up
north. Maybe they're operating
again." He got to his feet and stood
awkwardly by the table. "Besides —
I've got some pay coming."
Nora didn't say anything.
Frank said, "Well — so
Maybe I'll see you around."
Frank Brooks walked north on
Clark Street. He was glad to get
away from the restaurant. Nora
was a good kid but hell — ^you didn't
take up with a hooker. A guy played
around, but you didn't stick with
But it made a guy think. He was
past the kid stage. It was time for
him to find a girl and settle down.
A guy didn't want to knock around
all his life.
Nora walked west on Madison
Street. Then she remembered the
Halstead Street slums were in that
direction and turned south on
Wells. She had nine dollars in her
bag and that worried her. You
couldn't get along on nine dollars
in Chicago very long.
There was a tavern on Jackson
near Wells. Nora went inside. The
barkeep didn't frown at her. That
was good. She went to the bar and
ordered a beer and was served.
After a while a man came in. A
middle aged man who might have
just come into Chicago — whose
bags might still be at the LaSalle
Street Station down the block. The
man looked at Nora, then away.
After a while looked at her again.
- THE END ■
// earthlings are looking for an "incident" the
gods of chance will furnish one. On Lobe, how-
ever, it might be merely a neglible —
Margin of Error
By Richard Deeming
Illustrated by Bob Martin
ON JANUARY 1st, 1980, a
small Negro boy in Porto Rico
was hunting rats with an ancient
.22 caliber single-shot rifle. At one
minute after twelve noon he looked
up as the jet mail express from
Communist Haiti zoomed by a
quarter mile offshore and ten thou-
sand feet high, en route to Com-
munist Trinidad. As sometimes hap-
pens in imaginative childhood, the
boy visualized the far-off jet ex-
press as a bird and raised his rifle
to his shoulder. He said "bang!"
and somehow the tiny rifle went
off. To his horror the jet express
immediately performed a loop and
plunged into the sea.
Within twenty-four hours, the
small boy had been magnified into
an anti-aircraft crew, and an inci-
dent had been manufactured. This,
because an incident was desired by
one Marshall Igor Matoshek — Dic-
tator of Russia— and a great many
other nations. »On January 2nd,
1980, Matoshek addressed, by tele-
vision, the two and one-half billion
people under his rule, plus the two-
hundred million people not under
his rule, he simply announced that
the warmongering bourgeois dicta-
torship which ruled the Tri-federa-
tion of North America and the Is-
land of Porto Rico had vilely at-
tacked the free and peace-loving
democracies of the Communist In-
ternational, and that a state of war
At the same time, an extremely
unimportant conference was taking
place on the planet Lobe, eight
light years away from the planet
Since the participants in this con-
ference conversed by thought
transference in a language not
translatable into any language ever
employed on Earth, and even im-
possible to indicate phonetically,
only its substance can be given. For
the same reason there is no way to
express the true names of the par-
ticipants, so for purposes of con-
venience they are arbitrarily desig-
nated Horace, George and Junior.
In the extremely advanced civili-
zation of Lobe, Horace was the
Earthly equivalent of a kindergar-
ten teacher. He was a tall, distin-
guished looking Lobian with nearly
white antennae, but a beak un-
chipped by age and a firm, un-
wrinkled underside where it was
unprotected by his shell.
The position of George in Lobian
economy has no counterpart on
Earth, and therefore cannot be ac-
curately described. Approximately,
he was something like a skilled ar-
tisan, though his work was entirely
mental, consisting of polishing the
raw thoughts of workers higher in
the Lobian professional scale. Bi-
ologically it is easier to put a finger
on George, however. He was the
father of Junior.
Junior was the subject of the con-
"It is difficult and embarrassing
to tell a parent his child is sub-
normal," Horace was transmitting,
glancing first at Junior to make sure
his receiving antenna was retracted
as ordered. "I hope you understand
the delicacy of my position."
"Of course, professor," George
radioed back glumly, "It's just that
I had such hopes for the lad." His
thought trailed off and he waved
several tentacles vaguely.
"Being a drone will at least be a
pleasant life," Horace reassured
him. "Junior will be happy. You
have the consolation of the Act be-
ing in force anyway. Ten years ago
he would have been destroyed."
George absorbed this with small
solace. Examining his son, he felt a
twinge of compassion because the
lad so resembled his dead mother.
The same delicate sight-tubes, shin-
ing black beak and gentle curve to
the brittle plate encasing his shoul-
ders. He signalled the youngster to
thrust out his receiving antenna.
"Your teacher tells me you have
a little trouble with your work,
son," he transmitted gently. "Is
there anything particular bothering
In the high frequency of the very
young, Junior sent back, "It's my
margin of, error, Father. I under-
stand the principles of the prob-
lems, but my answers come out
wrong. I seem to make mechanical
Ocdige glanced at Horace in-
(iuirint;ly, and the teacher motioned
junior to retract his antenna again.
"All indication of an intermit-
tiiii Im' :ik in the thought pattern,"
he t laincd. "With our present
knowlidge, nothing can be done for
him. He can absorb knowledge, of
course. Under our modern teach-
ing methods we can impart knowl-
edge to an imbecile." His expres-
sion indicated he believed that the
situation in this case. "But he could
never be allowed to perform even
the simplest problem except under
supervision. Conceive what might
happen if we even trained him to
become merely a thought-link com-
puter. He might insert an error
whose end result could throw the
entire universe out of balance."
"Would you mind my watching
while he worked some simple prob-
lem?" George radioed.
"Of course not." Again the
teacher signalled his student, and
Junior's antenna obediently shot
out. "Your father would like to see
you at work. Junior. Take him into
your room and explain the problem
you were doing when we inter-
rupted you." Then he paused and
added a caution. "No practical ap-
plication until I have checked your
Two and a half billion com-
munist subjects watched the tele-
vised image of Marshall Igor Mato-
shek with stoic resignation and
cheered with mechanical enthusi-
asm. Two-hundred million people
in the three republics of North
America and on the Island of Porto
Rico watched the same image with
fear in their hearts.
"We stand on the threshold of
the greatest era in history," intoned
the most important man in the
world. "The outcome of the vast
struggle in which we are about to
engage will determine the destiny
of this planet for all time. No sin-
MARGIN OF ERROR
gle instance in the known past has
ever been of such import."
The President of the Tri-federa-
tion of North America did not wait
for the talk to end. He lifted his
telephone and ordered the H-bomb
shields aloft at once.
"The first problem is simple
enough," Junior explained to his
father. He indicated a small scan-
ning screen, and twisted dials until
a section of the heavens was visible.
"One at a time I take each of the
twenty-two solar systems outside of
our own and compute what effect
its mass and location has on the lo-
cation of this planet. In other
thoughts, if the particular solar sys-
tem were not in existence, and con-
sequently not exerting its gravita-
tional pull on Lobe, what would
Lobe's orbit around our sun be?"
"I see," Gorge transmitted.
"On that part I made no
mistakes," Junior sent proudly.
"Teacher checked all my answers
himself." "Then his expression be-
came glum. "The second part was
to take each individual planet of
each solar system and compute
what effect its mass and location
has, first, on its own solar system
and, second, on our planet. I used
the proper formulae and have all
my answers, but teacher has not yet
Ex?imining the youngster's glum
expres^on, George retracted his
sending antenna and thought to
himself, "The lad doesn't seem to
have much faith in the answers he
"At this moment the great guided
missile emplacements at Paris, Lon-
don, Honolulu and Rio de Janeiro
are preparing to launch destruction
at every principal city in North
America and Porto Rico," Marshall
Matoshek informed his audience.
"The fire-control officers of these
batteries are watching and listening
to me just as you others are. The
signal to fire will come from me
right there on your screen."
He paused to let this sink in.
"The Communist International is
averse to destruction where peace-
ful methods are possible, however.
My aide-de-camp. General Serge
Marik, is awaiting transoceanic con-
nection with the President of the
Tri-federation of North America at
this very moment. If the three re-
publics of North America and the
Island of Porto Rico agree to sur-
render immediately and uncondi-
tionally, the order to fire will not
The phone of the President of the
Tri-federation of North America
buzzed softly. He picked it up, lis-
tened for a moment and smiled
bleakly at the serious-faced men
gathered about his desk. One by
one they shook their heads and
smiled bleakly back at him.
"Tell the old windbag to go to
Hell," the President said.
"The answers seem to be sub-
stantially correct," Horace con-
ceded grudgingly. He glanced at
George almost in apology. "The
first time since school started his
margin of error has been negligible.
The exception which proves the
rule." He bent his gray sight-tubes
at the youngster. "Now compute
for me the provable planet whose
(Continued on page 117)
rfP^ fv • ^» ^^ ^ ' ' • • "fc ••■5 -V S
» XSMtow^ -^s^S^ ' ■* 5 - --• '•.' ■ s. .
fFAen fAe &eZ/5 rang they would arise .
Under the new system of the Managerials, the fight
was not for life but for death! And great was the
ingenuity of —
By Bryce Walton
Illustrated by Kelly Freas
CHARLES MARQUIS had a
fraction of a minute in which to
die. He dropped through the tub-
ular beams of alioydem steel and
hung there, five thousand feet above
the tiers and walkways below. At
either end of the walkway crossing
between the two power-hung build-
ings, he saw the plainclothes se-
curity officers running in toward
He grinned and started to release
his grip. He would think about
them on the way down. His fingers
wouldn't work. He kicked and
strained and tore at himself with his
own weight, but his hands weren't
his own any more. He might have
anticipated that. Some paralysis
beam freezing his hands into the
He sagged to limpness. His chin
dropped. For an instant, then, the
fire in his heart almost went out,
but not quite. It survived that one
terrible moment of defeat, then
burned higher. And perhaps some-
thing in that desperate resistance
was the factor that kept it burning
where it was thought no flame
could burn. He felt the rigidity of
paralysis leaving his arms as he was
lifted, helped along the walkway to
a security car.
The car looked like any other car.
The officers appeared like all the
other people in the clockwork cul-
ture of the mechanized New Sys-
tem. Marquis sought the protection
of personal darkness behind closed
eyelids as the monorail car moved
faster and faster through the high
clean air. Well — he'd worked with
the Underground against the Sys-
tem for a long time. He had known
that eventually he would be caught.
There were rumors of what hap-
pened to men then, and even the
vaguest, unsubstantiated rumors
were enough to indicate that death
was preferable. That was the Un-
derground's philosophy— better to
die standing up as a man with some
degree of personal integrity and
freedom than to go on living as a
conditioned slave of the state.
He'd missed — but he wasn't
through yet though. In a hollow
tooth was a capsule containing a
very high-potency poison. A little of
that would do the trick too. But he
would have to wait for the right
THE MANAGER was thin, his
face angular, and he matched up
with the harsh steel angles of the
desk and the big room somewhere
in the Security Building. His face
had a kind of emotion — cold, de-
tached, cynically superior.
"We don't get many of your
kind," he said. "Political prisoners
are becoming more scarce all the
time. As your number indicates.
From now on, you'll be No. 5274."
He looked at some papers, then
up at Marquis. "You evidently
found out a great deal. However,
none of it will do you or what re-
mains of your Underground fools
any good." The Manager studied
Marquis with detached curiosity.
"You learned things concerning the
Managerials that have so far re-
It was partly a question. Mar-
quis' lean and darkly inscrutable
face smiled slightly. "You're good
at understatement. Yes — I found
out what we've suspected for some
time. That the Managerial class has
found some way to stay young.
Either a remarkable longevity, or
immortality. Of all the social evils
that's the worst of all. To deny the
people knowledge of such a secret."
The Manager nodded. "Then
you did find that out? The Under-
ground knows? Well, it will do no
"It will, eventually. They'll go on
and someday they'll learn the
secret." Marquis thought of Mar-
den. Marden was as old as the New
System of statism and inhumanity
that had started off disguised as
and three years old to be exact.
The Manager said. "No. 5274—
you will be sent to the work colony
on the Moon. You won't be back.
We've tried re-conditioning rebels,
but it doesn't work. A rebel has cer-
tain basic deviant characteristics
and we can't overcome them suffi-
ciently to make happy, well-ad-
justed workers out of you. How-
ever on the Moon — you will con-
form. It's a kind of social experi-
ment there in associative reflex cul-
ture, you might say. You'll conform
He was taken to a small, naked,
gray-steel room. He thought about
taking the capsule from his tooth
now, but decided he might be ob-
served. They would rush in an anti-
dote and make him live. And he
might not get a chance to take his
life in any other way. He would try
of course, but his knowledge of his
future situation was vague — except
that in it he would conform. There
would be extreme conditioned-re-
flex therapeutic techniques. And it
would be pretty horrible. That was
all he knew.
He didn't see the pellet fall. He
heard the slight sound it made and
then saw the almost colorless gas
hissing softly, clouding the room.
He tasted nothing, smelled or felt
He passed out quickly and pain-
HE WAS marched into another of-
fice, and he knew he was on the
Moon. The far wall was spherical
and was made up of the outer shell
of the pressure dome which kept
out the frigid cold nights and fur-
nace-hot days. It was opaque and
Marquis could see the harsh black
and white shadows out there — the
metallic edges of the far crater wall.
This Manager was somewhat fat,
with a round pink face and cold
blue eyes. He sat behind a chrome
shelf of odd shape suspended from
the ceiling with silver wires.
The Manager said. "No. 5274,
here there is only work. At first, of
course, you will rebel. Later you
will work, and finally there will be
nothing else. Things here are rigidly
scheduled, and you will learn the
routines as the conditioning bells
acquaint you with them. We are
completely seLf-sufficient here. We
are developing the perfect scien-
tifically-controlled society. It is a
kind of experiment. A closed system
to test to what extremes we can
carry our mastery of associative re-
flex to bring man security and hap-
piness and freedom from responsi-
Marquis didn't say anything.
There was nothing to say. He knew
he couldn't get away with trying to
kiU this particular Managerial
specimen. But one man, alone, a
rebel, with something left in him
that still burned, could beat the sys-
tem. He had to!
"Our work here is specialized.
During the indoctrination period
you will do a very simple routine
job in coordination with the cyber-
netics machines. There, the ma-
chines and the nervous system of
the workers become slowly coopera-
tive. Machine and man learn to
work very intimately together.
Later, after the indoctrination —
because of your specialized knowl-
edge of food-concentrate prepara-
tion — we will transfer you to the
food-mart. The period of indoctri-
nation varies in length with the in-
dividuals. You will be screened now
and taken to the indoctrination
ward. We probably won't be seeing
one another again. The bells take
care of everything here. The bells
and the machines. There is never
an error-^never any mistakes. Ma-
chines do not make mistakes."
He was marched out of there and
through a series of rooms. He was
taken in by generators, huge oscil-
loscopes. Spun like a living tube
through curtains of vacuum tube
voltimeters, electronic power pan-
els. Twisted and squeezed through
rolls of skeins of hook-up wire. Bent
through shieldings of every color,
size and shape. Rolled over panel
plates, huge racks of glowing tubes,
elaborate transceivers. Tumbled
down long surfaces of gleaming
bakelite. Plunged through color-in-
dexed files of resistors and capaci-
tances. . .
. . . here machine and man learn
to work very intimately together.
As he drifted through the ma-
chine tooled nightmare, Marquis
knew what he had been fighting all
his life, what he would continue to
fight with every grain of ingenuity.
Mechanization — the horror of los-
ing one's identity and becoming
part of an assembly line.
He could hear a clicking sound
as tubes sharpened and faded in in-
tensity. The clicking — rhythm, a
hypnotic rhythm like the beating of
his own heart — the throbbing and
thrumming, the contracting and ex-
panding, the pulsing and pound-
ing. . .
. , . the machines and the nerv-
ous system of the workers become
Beds were spaced ten feet apart
down both sides of a long gray
metal hall. There were no cells, no
privacy, nothing but beds and the
gray metalene suits with numbers
printed across the chest.
His bed, with his number printed
above it, was indicated to him, and
the guard disappeared. He was
alone. It was absolutely silent. On
his right a woman lay on a bed. No.
329. She had been here a long
time. She appeared dead. Her
breasts rose and fell with a peculiar-
ly steady rhythm, and seemed to be
coordinated with the silent, invisi-
ble throbbing of the metal walls.
She might have been attractive
once. Here it didn't make any dif-
ference. Her face was gray, like
metal. Her hair was cropped short.
Her uniform was the same as the
man's on Marquis' left.
The man was No. 4901. He
hadn't been here so long. His face
was thin and gray. His hair was
dark, and he was about the same
size and build as Marquis. His
mouth hung slightly open and his
eyes were closed and there was a
slight quivering at the ends of the
fingers which were laced across his
"Hello," Marquis said. The man
shivered, then opened dull eyes and
looked up at Marquis. "I just got
in. Name's Charles Marquis."
The man blinked. "I'm — I'm —
No. 4901." He looked down at his
chest, repeated the number. His
fingers shook a little as he touched
Marquis said. "What's this in-
"You — learn. The bells ring —
you forget — and learn — "
"There's absolutely no chance of
escaping?" Marquis whispered,
more to himself than to 4901.
"Only by dying," 4901 shivered.
His eyes rolled crazily, then he
turned over and buried his face in
The situation had twisted all the
old accepted values squarely
around. Preferring death over life.
But not because of any anti-life at-
titude, or pessimism, or defeatism.
None of those negative attitudes
that would have made the will-to-
die abnormal under conditions in
which there would have been hope
and some faint chance of a bearable
future. Here to keep on living was
a final form of de-humanized indig-
nity, of humiliation, of ignominy, of
the worst thing of all — loss of one's-
self — of one's individuality. To die
as a human being was much more
preferable over continuing to live
as something else — something nei-
ther human or machine, but some-
thing of both, with none of the dig-
nity of either.
THE SCREENING process hadn't
detected the capsule of poison in
Marquis' tooth. The capsule con-
tained ten grains of poison, only
one of which was enough to bring a
painless death within sixteen hours
or so. That was his ace in the hole,
and he waited only for the best
time to use it.
Bells rang. The prisoners jumped
from their beds and went through a
few minutes of calisthenics. Other
bells rang and a tray of small tins of
food-concentrates appeared out of
a slit in the wall by each bed. More
bells rang, different kinds of bells,
some deep and brazen, others high
and shrill. And the prisoners
marched off to specialized jobs co-
operating with various machines.
You slept eight hours. Calisthen-
ics five minutes. Eating ten min-
utes. Relaxation to the tune of mu-
sical bells, ten minutes. Work period
eight hours. Repeat. That was all
of life, and after a while Mar-
quis knew, a man would not be
aware of time, nor of his name, nor
that he had once been human.
Marquis felt deep lancing pain as
he tried to resist the bells. Each
time the bells rang and a prisoner
didn't respond properly, invisible
rays of needle pain punched and
kept punching until he reacted
And finally he did as the bells
told him to do. Finally he forgot
that things had ever been any other
Marquis sat on his bed, eating,
while the bells of eating rang across
the bowed heads in the gray uni-
forms. He stared at the girl, then at
the man, 4901. There were many
opportunities to take one's own life
here. That had perplexed him from
the start — -why hasn't the girl, and
this man, succeeded in dying?
And all the others? They were
comparatively new here, all these
in this indoctrination ward. Why
weren't they trying to leave in the
only dignified way of escape left?
No. 4901 tried to talk, he tried
hard to remember things. Some-
times memory would break through
and bring him pictures of other
times, of happeniiigs on Earth, of a
girl he had known, of times when
he was a child. But only the mildest
and softest kind of recollections. . .
Marquis said. "I don't think
there's a prisoner here who doesn't
want to escape, and death is the
only way out for us. We know
For an instant, No. 4901 stopped
eating. A spoonful of food concen-
trate hung suspended between his
mouth and the shelf. Then the food
moved again to the urging of the
bells. Invisible pain needles gouged
Marquis' neck, and he ate again
too, automatically, talking between
tasteless bites. "A man's life at least
is his own," Marquis said. "They
can take everything else. But a man
certainly has a right and a duty to
take that life if by so doing he can
retain his integrity as a human be-
No. 4901 bent forward. He
groaned, mumbled "Don't— don't
— " several times, then curled for-
ward and lay on the floor knotted
up into a twitching ball.
The eating period was over. The
lights went off. Bells sounded for
relaxation. Then the sleep bells be-
gan ringing, filling up the absolute
Marquis lay there in the dark
and he was afraid. He had the poi-
son. He had the will. But he
couldn't be unique in that respect.
What was the matter with the
others? All right, the devil with
them. Maybe they'd been broken
too soon to act. He could act. To-
morrow, during the work period, he-
would take a grain of the poison.
Put the capsule back in the tooth.
The poison would work slowly,
painlessly, paralyzing the nervous
system," finally the heart. Sometime
during the beginning of the next
sleep period he would be dead.
That would leave six or seven hours
of darkness and isolation for him to
remain dead, so they couldn't get to
him in time to bring him back.
He mentioned suicide to the girl
during the next work period. She
moaned a little and curled up like
a foetus on the floor. After an hour,
she got up and began inserting
punch cards into the big machine
again. She avoided Marquis.
Marquis looked around, went
into a corner with his back to the
room, slipped the capsule out and
let one of the tiny, almost invisible
grains, melt on his tongue. He re-
placed the capsule and returned to
the machine. A quiet but exciting
triumph made the remainder of the
work period more bearable.
Back on his bed, he drifted into
sleep, into what he knew was the
final sleep. He was more fortunate
than the others. Within an hour he
would be dead.
OMEWHERE, someone was
The sounds rose higher and
higher. A human body, somewhere
. . . pain unimaginable twisting up
through clouds of belching steam
. . . muscles quivering, ■ nerves
twitching . . . and somewhere a
body floating and bobbing and cry-
ing . . . sheets of agony sweeping
and returning in waves and the
horror of unescapable pain expand-
ing like a volcano of madness. . .
Somewhere was someone alive
who should be dead.
And then in the dark, in absolute
silence. Marquis moved a little. He
realized, vaguely, that the scream-
ing voice was his own.
He stared into the steamy dark-
ness and slowly, carefully, wet his
lips. He moved. He felt his lips
moving and the whisper sounding
loud in the dark.
He managed to struggle up out of
the bed. He could scarcely remain
erect. Every muscle in his body
seemed to quiver. He longed to slip
down into the darkness and escape
into endless sleep. But he'd tried
that. And he was still alive. He
didn't know how much tirne had
passed. He was sure of the poison's
effects, but he wasn't dead. They
had gotten to him in time.
Sweat exploded from his body.
He tried to remember more. Pain.
He lay down again. He writhed and
perspired on the bed as his tortured
mind built grotesque fantasies out
of fragments of broken memory.
The routirie of the unceasing
bells went on. Bells, leap up. Bells,
calisthenics. Bells, eat. Bells, march.
Bells, work. He tried to shut out
the bells. He tried to talk to 4901.
4901 covered up his ears and
wouldn't listen. The girl wouldn't
listen to him.
There were other ways. And he
kept the poison hidden in the cap-
sule in his hollow tooth. He had
been counting the steps covering the
length of the hall, then the twenty
steps to the left, then to the right to
where the narrow corridor led
again to the left where he had seen
After the bells stopped ringing
and the darkness was all around
him, he got up. He counted off the
steps. No guards, no alarms, noth-
ing to stop him. They depended on
the conditioners to take care of
everything. This time he would do
it. This time they wouldn't bring
No one else could even talk with
him about it, even though he knew
they all wanted to escape. Some
part of them still wanted to, but
they couldn't. So it was up to him.
He stopped against the smooth,
opaque, up-curving glasite dome. It
had a brittle bright shine that re-
flected from the Moon's surface. It
was night out there, with an odd
metallic reflection of Earthlight
against the naked crags.
He hesitated. He could feel the
intense and terrible cold, the airless-
ness out there fingering hungrily,
reaching and whispering and wait-
He turned the wheel. The door
opened. He entered the air-lock
and shut the first door when the
air-pressure was right. He turned
the other wheel and the outer lock
door swung outward. The out-rush-
ing air spun him outward like a bal-
loon into the awful airless cold and
His body sank down into the
thick pumice dust that drifted up
around him in a fine powdery
blanket of concealment. He felt no
pain. The cold airlessness dissolved
around him in deepening darkening
pleasantness. This time he was
dead, thoroughly and finally and
gloriously dead, even buried, and
they couldn't find him. And even if
they did finally find him, what good
would it do them?
Some transcendental part of him
seemed to remain to observe and
triumph over his victory. This time
he was dead to stay.
This time he knew at once that
the twisting body in the steaming
pain, the distorted face, the screams
rising and rising were all Charles
Maybe a dream though, he
thought. So much pain, so much
screaming pain, is not real. In some
fraction of a fraction of that interim
between life and death, one could
dream of so much because dreams
Yet he found himself anticipat-
ing, even through the shredded, dis-
sociated, nameless kind of pain, a
repetition of that other time.
The awful bitterness of defeat.
HE OPENED his eyes slowly. It
was dark, the same darkness. He
was on the same bed. And the old
familiar dark around and the fa-
miliar soundlessness that was now
heavier than the most thunderous
Everything around him then
seemed to whirl up and go down in
a crash. He rolled over to the floor
and lay there, his hot face cooled
by the cold metal.
As before, some undeterminable
interim of time had passed. And he
knew he was alive. His body was
stiff. He ached. There was a drum-
ming in his head, and then a ring-
ing in his ears as he tried to get up,
managed to drag himself to an un-
steady stance against the wall. He
felt now an icy surety of horror that
carried him out to a pin-point in
A terrible fatigue hit him. He fell
back onto the bed. He lay there try-
ing to figure out how he could be
He finally slept pushed into it by
sheer and utter exhaustion. The
bells called him awake. The bells
started him off again. He tried to
talk again to 4901. They avoided
him, all of them. But they weren't
really alive any more. How long
could he maintain some part of
himself that he knew definitely was
He began a ritual, a routine di-
vorced from that to which all those
being indoctrinated were subjected.
It was a little private routine of his
own. Dying, and then finding that
he was not dead.
He tried it many ways. He took
more grains of the poison. But he
was always alive again.
"Y0U--49OI! Damn you— talk
to me! You know what's been hap-
pening to me?"
The man nodded quickly over his
little canisters of food-concentrate.
"This indoctrination — ^you, the
girl — you went crazy when I talked
about dying — what — ?"
The man yelled hoarsely. "Don't
. . . don't say it! All this — what
you've been going through, can't
you understand? All that is part of
indoctrination. You're no different
than the rest of us! We've all had
it! All of us. All of us! Some more
maybe than others. It had to end.
You'll have to give in. Oh God, I
whh you didn't. I wish you could
win. But you're no smarter than the
rest of us. You'll have to give in!"
It was 4901 's longest and most
coherent speech. Maybe I can get
somewhere with him, Marquis
thought. I can find out something.
But 4901 wouldn't say any more.
Marquis kept on trying. No one,
he knew, would evei' realize what
that meant— ^to keep on trying to
die when no could would let you,
when you kept dying, and then kept
waking up again, and you weren't
dead. No one could ever under-
stand the pain that went between
the dying and the living. And even
Marquis couldn't remember it
afterward. He only knew how pain-
ful it had been. And knowing that
made each attempt a little harder
He tried the poison again. There
was the big stamping machine that
had crushed him beyond any sem-
blance of a human being, but he
had awakened, alive again, whole
again. There was the time he
grabbed the power cable and felt
himself, in one blinding flash, con-
quer life in a burst of flame. He
slashed his wrists at the beginning
of a number of sleep periods.
When he awakened, he was
whole again. There wasn't even a
He suffered the pain of resisting
the eating bells until he was so weak
he couldn't respond, and he knew
that he died that time too-r-from
But I can't stay dead!
". . • You'll have to give in!"
HE DIDN'T know when it was.
He had no idea now how long
he had been here. But a guard ap-
peared, a cold-faced man who
guided Marquis back to the office
where the fat, pink-faced little
Manager waited for him behind
the shelf suspended by silver wires
from the ceiling.
The Manager said. "You are the
most remarkable prisoner we've
ever had here. There probably will
not be another like you here again."
Marquis' features hung slack, his
mouth slightly open, his lower lip
drooping. He knew how he looked.
He knew how near he was to crack-
ing completely, becoming a sense-
less puppet of the bells. "Why is
that?" he whispered.
"You've tried repeatedly to —
you know what I mean of course.
You have kept on attempting this
impossible thing, attempted it more
times than anyone else here ever
has! Frankly, we didn't think any
human psyche had the stuff to try
it that many times— to resist that
The Manager made a curious
lengthened survey of Marquis' face.
"Soon you'll be thoroughly indoc-
trinated. You are. for all practical
purposes, now. You'll work auto-
matically then, to the bells, and
think very little about it at all, ex-
cept in a few stereotyped ways to
keep your brain and nervous system
active enough to carry out simple
specialized work duties. Or while
the New System lasts. And I im-
agine that will be forever."
"Forever . . ."
"Yes, yes. You're immortal now,"
the Manager smiled. "Surely, after
all this harrowing indoctrination
experience, you realize that!"
Immortal. I might have guessed.
I might laugh now, but I can't. We
who pretend to live in a hell that is
worse than death, and you, the
Managerials who live in paradise.
We two are immortal.
"That is, you're immortal as long
as we desire you to be. You'll never
grow any older than we want you
to, never so senile as to threaten
efficiency. That was what you were
so interested in finding out on
Earth, wasn't it? The mystery be-
hind the Managerials? Why they
never seemed to grow old. Why we
have all the advantage, no senility,
no weakening, the advantage of ac-
cumulative experience without the
necessity of re-learning?"
"Yes," Marquis whispered.
The Manager leaned back. He
lit a paraette and let the soothing
nerve-tonic seep into his lungs. He
"Every one of you political pris-
oners we bring here want, above
everything else, to die. It was a
challenge to our experimental social
order here. We have no objection
to your killing yourself. We have
learned that even the will to die can
be conditioned out of the most de-
termined rebel. As it has been con-
ditioned out of you. You try to die
enough times, and you do die, but
the pain of resurrection is so great
that finally it is impossible not only
to kill yourself, but even to think of
Marquis couldn't say anything.
The memory called up by the men-
tion of self-destruction rasped along
his spine like chalk on a blackboard.
He could feel the total-recall of
sensation, the threatening bursts of
pain. "No . . ." he whispered over
and over. "No — please — no — "
The Manager said. "We won't
mention it anymore. You'll never
be able to try any overt act of self-
The bright light from the ceiling
lanced like splinters into the tender
flesh of Marquis' eyeballs, danced
about the base of his brain in red-
dened choleric circles. His face had
drawn back so that his cheekbones
stood out and his nose was beak-
like. His irises becamQ a bright
painful blue in the reddened ovals
of his eyes.
The Manager yawned as he fin-
ished explaining. "Each prisoner
entering here has an identification
punch-plate made of his unique
electro-magnetic vibratory field.
That's the secret of our immortality
and yours. Like all matter, human
difference is in the electro-magnetic,
vibratory rates. We have these
punch-plates on file for every pris-
oner. We have one of you. Any dead
human body we merely put in a
tank which dissolves it into separate
cells, a mass of stasis with potential-
ity to be reformed into any type of
human being of which we have an
identification punch-plate, you see?
This tank of dissociated cells is sur-
rounded by an electro-magnetic
field induced from a machine by
one of the identification punch-
plates. That particular human be-
ing lives again, the body, its mind,
its life pattern identical to that from
which the original punch-plate was
made. Each time you have died,
we reduced your body, regardless of
its condition, to dissociated cells in
the tank. The identification punch-
plate was put in the machine. Your
unique electro-magnetic field re-
formed the cells into you. It could
only be you, as you are now. From
those cells we can resurrect any one
of whom we have an identification
"That is all. No. 5274. Now that
you're indoctrinated, you will work
from now on in the food-mart, be-
cause of your experience.
FOR AN undeterminable length
of time, he followed the routines
of the bells. In the big food-mart,
among the hydroponic beds, and
the canning machines; among the
food-grinders and little belts that
dropped cans of food-concentrate
into racks and sent them off into
He managed to talk more and
more coherently with No. 4901. He
stopped referring to suicide, but if
anyone had the idea that Marquis
had given up the idea of dying, they
were wrong. Marquis was stubborn.
Somewhere in him the flame still
burned. He wouldn't let it go out.
The bells coiJdn't put it out. The
throbbing machines couldn't put it
out. And now he had at last figured
out a way to beat the game.
During an eating period. Marquis
said to 4901. "You want to die.
Wait a minute — I'm talking about
something we can both talk and
think about. A murder agreement.
You understand? We haven't been
conditioned against killing each
other. It's only an overt act of self-
des — all right, we don't think about
that. But we can plan a way to kill
4901 looked up. He stopped eat-
ing momentarily. He was interested.
"What's the use though?" Pain
shadowed his face. "We only go
through it — come back again — "
"I have a plan. The way I have it
worked out, they'll never bring
either one of us back."
That wasn't exactly true. One of
them would have to come back.
Marquis hoped that 4901 wouldn't
catch on to the fact that he would
have to be resurrected, but that
Marquis never would. He hoped
that 490 1's mind was too foggy and
dull to see through the complex
plan. And that was the way it
Marquis explained. 4901 listened
and smiled. It was the first time
Marquis had ever seen a prisoner
He left what remained of the
capsule of poison where 4901 could
get it. During one of the next four
eating periods, 4901 was to slip the
poison into Marquis' food can.
Marquis wouldn't know what meal,
or what can. He had to eat. The
bells had conditioned him that
much. And not to eat would be an
overt act of self-destruction.
He wasn't conditioned not to ac-
cept death adrriinistered by another.
And then, after an eating period,
4901 whispered to him. "You're
poisoned. It was in one of the cans
you just ate."
"Great!" almost shouted Mar-
quis. "All right. Now I'll die by the
end of the next work period. That
gives us this sleep period and all the
next work period. During that time
I'll dispose of you as I've said."
4901 went to his bed and the bells
rang and the dark came and both
of them slept.
NUMBER 4901 resisted the con-
ditioners enough to follow
Marquis past his regular work
room into the food-mart. As
planned, 4901 marched on and
stood in the steaming shadows be-
hind the hydroponic beds.
Marquis worked for a while at
the canning machines, at the big
grinding vats. Then he went over
to 4901 and said. "Turn around
4901 smiled. He turned around.
"Good luck," he said. "Good luck
— to youl"
Marquis hit 4901 across the back
of the neck with an alloy bar and
killed him instantly. He changed
clothes with the dead man. He put
his own clothes in a refuse incinera-
tor. Quickly, he dragged the body
over and tossed it into one of the
food-grinding vats. His head bobbed
up above the gray swirling liquid
once, then the body disappeared
entirely, was ground finely and
mixed with the other foodstuff.
Within eight hours the cells of
4901 would be distributed minute-
ly throughout the contents of thou-
sands of cans of food-concentrate.
Within that time much of it would
have been consumed by the inmates
At the end of that work period.
Marquis returned to his cell. He
went past his own bed and stopped
in front of 490 1's bed.
The sleep bells sounded and the
dark came again. This would be
the final dark, Marquis knew. This
time he had beat the game. The
delayed-action poison would kill
him. He had on 490 1's clothes with
his identification number. He was
on 4901's bed.
He would die— as 4901. The
guards would finally check on the
missing man in the food-mart. But
they would never find him. They
would find 4901 dead, a suicide.
And they would put the body la-
beled 4901 in the tank, dissolve it
into dissociated cells and they
would subject those cells to the
electro-magnetic field of 4901.
And they would resurrect —
Not only have I managed to die,
Marquis thought, but I've man-
aged the ultimate suicide. There
won't even be a body, no sign any-
where that I have ever been at all.
Even my cells will have been resur-
rected as someone else. As a num-
"And that's the way it was," No.
4901 would tell new prisoners com-
ing in. Sometimes they listened to
him and seemed interested, but the
interest always died during indoc-
trination. But No. 490rs interest in
the story never died.
He knew that now he could
never let himself die as a human
being either, that he could never let
himself become completely con-
trolled by the bells. He'd been near-
ly dead as an individual, but No.
5274 had saved him from that
dead-alive anonymity. He could
keep alive, and maintain hope now
by remembering what ,5274 had
done. He clung to that memory. As
long as he retained that memory of
hope — of triumph — at least some
part of him would keep burning, as
something had kept on burning
within the heart of 5274.
So every night before the sleep
bells sounded, he would go over the
whole thing in minute detail, re-
membering 5274's every word and
gesture, the details of his appear-
ance. He told the plan over to him-
self every night, and told everyone
about it who came in to the indoc-
Swimming up through the pain
of resurrection, he had been a little
mad at 5274 at first, and then he
had realized that at least the plan
had enabled one man to beat the
"He will always be alive to me.
Maybe, in a way, he's part of me.
Nobody knows. But his memory
will live. He succeeded in a kind of
ultimate dying — no trace of him
anywhere. But the memory of him
and what he did will be alive when
the New System and the Managers
are dead. That spirit will assure the
Underground of victory — someday.
And meanwhile, I'll keep 5274
"He even knew the psychology of
these Managers and their System.
That they can't afford to make an
error. He knew they'd still have
that identification punch-plate of
him. That they would have one
more plate than they had prisoners.
But he anticipated what they would
do there too. To admit there was
one more identification plate than
there were prisoners would be to
admit a gross error. Of course they
could dissolve one of the other
prisoners and use 5274's plate and
(Continued on page 118)
Women of earth had finally attained their objec-
tive: a new world all their own and — without men!
But was it?.
Thy Name Is
By Kenneth D'Hara
Illustrated by Zimmerman
AFTER THE Doctor gave him
the hypo and left the ship, Bow-
ren lay in absolute darkness won-
dering when the change would
start. There would be pain, the
Doctor had said. "Then you won't
be aware of anything — anything at
That was a devil of a thing, Bow-
ren thought, not to be aware of the
greatest adventure any man ever
had. He, Eddie Bowren, the first
to escape the Earth into space, the
first man to Mars!
He was on his back in a small
square steel cubicle, a secretly con-
structed room in the wall of the
cargo bin of the big spaceship
cradled at the New Chicago Port.
He was not without fear. But be-
fore the ship blasted he wouldn't
care — he would be changed by
then. He would start turning any
minute now, becoming something
else; he didn't know exactly what,
but that wouldn't matter. After it
was over, he wouldn't remember be-
cause the higher brain centers, the
cortex, the analytical mind, would
be completely cut off, short-cir-
cuited, during the alteration.
The cubicle was close, hot,
sound-proofed, like a tomb. "You
will probably make loud unpleasant
noises," the Doctor had said, "but
no one will hear you." Don't worry
about anything until you get to
That was right, Bowren thought.
My only problem is to observe, com-
. J, ■■
-V, ' ;
k I ^
- s -
* , ?
1 » ■,,
« C" V
-~ Tn Aft
- -'*•, :
J " '
» - ^
rf T,f y..-
. y^i" *
J , *
>■ ■■■ 1
"• . '
There wasn't a woman left on earth. They had
just packed their bags and left.
THY NAME IS WOMAN
pute, and get back into this dun-
geon without being observed, and
back to Earth.
The idea was to keep it from the
women. The women wouldn't go
for this at all. They would object.
The women would be able to bring
into effect several laws dealing with
spaceflight, among them the one
against stowaways, and especially
that particular one about aber-
rated males sneaking into space and
A lot of men had tried it, in the
beginning. Some of them had man-
aged it, but they had all died. For
a long time, the men's egos hadn't
been able to admit that the male
organism was incapable of standing
the rigors of acceleration. Women
had had laws passed, and if the
women caught him doing this, the
punishment would be extreme for
him, personally, and a lot more ex-
treme for Earth civilization in gen-
eral. If you could call it a civiliza-
tion. You could call it anything,
Bowren groaned — but it didn't
make sense. A world without wom-
en. A birthrate reduced to zero.
A trickle of sweat slid past Bow-
ren's eyes, loosening a nervous flush
along his back that prickled pain-
fully. His throat was tense and his
heart pounded loud in the hot dark.
A sharp pain ran up his body and
exploded in his head. He tried to
swallow, but something gagged in
his throat. He was afraid of retch-
ing. He lay with his mouth open,
spittle dribbling over his lips. The
pain returned, hammered at his en-
trails. He fought the pain numbly,
like a man grappling in the dark.
The wave subsided and he lay
there gasping, his fists clenched.
"The pain will come in increas-
ingly powerful waves," the Doctor
had said. "At a certain point. It will
be so great, the analytical mind will
completely short-circuit. It will stay
that way enroute to Mars, and
meanwhile your body will rapidly
change into that of a beast. Don't
worry about it. A catalytic agent
will return you to normal before
you reach the planet. If you live,
you'll be human again."
A male human couldn't stand the
acceleration. But a woman could.
Animals could. They had experi-
mented on human males and ani-
mals in the giant centrifuges, and
learned what to do. Animals could
stand 25 "G" consistently, or cen-
trifugal forces as high as 120 revolu-
tions a minute. About 10 "G" was
the limit of female endurance. Less
It had never been thoroughly de-
termined why women had been able
to stand higher acceleration. But
human females had the same phys-
ical advantages over men as female
rats, rabbits, and cats over males of
the same species. A woman's cellu-
lar structure was different; her cen-
ter of gravity was different, the
brain waves given off during accel-
eration were different. It was sus-
pected that the autonomic nervous
system in women could function
more freely to protect the body dur-
ing emergency situations. The only
certainty about it was that no man
had ever been able to get into space
But animals could so they had
worked on it and finally they de-
cided to change a man into an ani-
mal, at least temporarily. Geneti-
' ) ! aiu! Iiiocheinists and other spe-
' i.ili-ts liad been able to do a lot
with hormones and hard radiation
ii'iitment. Especially with hor-
mones. You could shoot a man full
of some fluid or another, and do al-
most anything to his organism. You
could induce atavism, regression to
'iome lower form of animal life — a
highly speeded up regression. When
you did that, naturally the analyti-
cal mind, the higher thought cen-
ters of a more recent evolutionary
development, blanked out and the
'primal mind took oyer. The body
changed too, considerably.
Bowren was changing. Then the
pain came and he couldn't think.
He felt his mind cringing— giving
way before the onslaught of the
pain. Dimly he could feel the agony
in his limbs, the throbbing of his
heart, the fading power of reason.
He retched, languished through
flaccid minutes. There were recur-
ring spasms of shivering as he rolled
his thickened tongue in the arid
cavity of his mouth. And then,
somewhere, a spark exploded, and
drowned him in a pool of streaming
slowly — much as it had gone —
in waves of pain. It took a long
time. Elements of reason and un-
reason fusing through distorted
nightmares until he was lying there
able to remember, able to wonder,
able to think.
Inside the tiny compartment
were supplies. A hypo, glucose, a
durolene suit neatly folded which
he put on. He gave himself a
needle, swallowed the tablets, and
waited until energy and a sense of
well-being gave him some degree
It was very still. The ship would
be cradled on Mars now. He lay
there, relaxing, preparing for the
real challenge. He thought of how
well the Earth Investigation Com-
mittee had planned the whole
The last desperate attempt of
man to get into space — to Mars — a
woman's world. At least it was sup-
posed to be. Whatever it was, it
wasn't a man's world.
The women didn't want Earth
anymore. They had something bet-
ter. But what? There were other
questions, and Bowren's job was to
find the answers, remain unob-
served and get back aboard this
ship. He would then hypo himself
again, and when the ship blasted off
to Earth, he would go through the
same transition all over again.
He put on the soft-soled shoes as
well as the durolene suit and
crawled through the small panel
into the big cargo bin. It was empty.
Only a dim yellow light shone on
the big cargo vices along the curved
He climbed the ladders slowly,
cautiously, through a gnawing si-
lence of suspense, over the mesh
grid flooring along the tubular cor-
ridors. He wondered what he would
Could the women have been in-
fluenced by some alien life form on
That could explain the fact that
women had divorced themselves
completely from all men, from the
Earth. Something had to explain
THY NAME IS WOMAN
There was one other possibility.
That the women had found human
life on Mars. That was a very re-
mote possibility based on the idea
that perhaps the Solar system had
been settled by human beings from
outer space, and had landed on two
worlds at least.
Bowren remembered how his
wife, Lora, had told him he was an
idiot and a bore, and had walked
out on him five years before; taken
her three months course in astroga-
tion, and left Earth. He hadn't
heard of her or from her since. It
was the same with every other man,
married or not. The male ego had
taken a beating for so long that the
results had been psychologically de-
The ship seemed to be empty of
any human being but Bowren. He
reached the outer lock door. It was
ajar. Thin cold air came through
and sent a chill down his arms, tin-
gling in his fingers. He looked out.
It was night on Mars, a strange red-
tinted night, the double moons
throwing streaming color over the
Across the field, he saw the glow-
ing Luciferin-like light of a small
city. Soaring spherical lines. Noth-
ing masculine about its architecture.
He climbed down the ladder, the
air biting into his lungs. The silence
down there on the ground under
the ship was intense.
He stood there a minute. The
first man on Mars. Man's oldest
But the great thrill he had an-
ticipated was dulled somewhat by
fear. A fear of what the women had
become, and of what might have in-
fluenced their becoming.
He took out a small neurogun
and walked. He reached what
seemed to be a huge park that
seemed to surround the city. It
grew warmer and a soft wind whis-
pered through the strange wide-
spreading trees and bushes and ex-
otic blossoms. The scent of blossoms
drifted on the wind and the sound
of running water, of murmuring
The park thickened as Bowren
edged into its dark, languid depth.
It seemed as though the city radi-
ated heat. He dodged suddenly be-
hind a tree, knelt down. For an in-
stant he was embarrassed seeing the
two shadowy figures in each others
arms on a bench in the moonlight.
This emotion gave way to shock,
One of them was a — man !
Bowren felt the perspiration start
from his face. An intense jealousy
surrendered to a start of fearful
curiosity. Where had the man come
Bowren's long frustration, the
memory of his wife, the humilia-
tion, the rejection, the abandon-
ment, the impotent rage of loneli-
ness—it all came back to him.
He controlled his emotion some-
how. At least he didn't manifest it
physically. He crept closer, lis-
tened. ■ ^
"This was such a sweet idea," the
woman was whispering. "Bringing
me here to the park tonight. That's
why I love you so, Marvin. You're
always so romantic."
"How else could I think of you,
darling," the man said. His voice
was cultured, precise, soft, thick
"You're so sweet, Marvin."
"You're so beautiful, darling. I
think of you every minute that
you're away on one of those space
flights. You women are so wonder-
ful to have conquered space, but
sometimes I hate the ships that take
you away from me."
The woman sighed. "But it's so
nice to come back to you. So excit-
ing, so comfortable."
The kiss was long and deep. Bow-
ren backed away, almost smashing
into the tree. He touched his fore-
head. He was sweating heavily. His
beard dripped moisture, There was
a hollow panicky feeling in his stom-
ach. Now he was confused as well
Another couple was sitting next
to a fountain, and a bubbling brook
ran past them, singing into the
darkness, Bowren crouched behind
a bush and listened. It might have
been the man he had just left, still
talking. The voice was slightly dif-
rent, but the dialogue sounded very
much the same.
"It must be wonderful to be a
woman, dear, and voyage between
the stars. But as I say, I'm glad to
stay here and tend the home and
mind the children, glad to be here,
my arms open to you when you
"It's so wonderful to know that
you care so much. I'm so glad you
never let me forget that you love
"I love you, every minute of
(-very day. Just thinli — two more
months and one week and we will
have been married ten years."
"It's so lovely," she said. "It
seems like ten days. Like those first
thrilling ten days, darling, going
over and over again."
"I'll always love you, darling."
The man got up, lifted the wom-
an in his arms, held her high. "Dar-
ling, let's go for a night ride across
"Oh, you darling. You always
think of these little adventures."
"All life with you is an adven-
"But what about little Jimmie
"I've arranged a sitter for them."
"But darling — ^you mean you —
Oh, you're so wonderful. You
think of everything. So practical,
yet so romantic . . . so — "
He kissed her and ran away,
holding her high in the air, and
her laughter bubbled back to where
Bowren crouched behind the bush.
He kept on crouching there, staring
numbly at the vacancy the fleeing
couple had left in the shadows.
"Good God," he whispered. "After
He shook his head and slowly
licked his lips. He'd been married
It hadn't been like this. He'd
never heard of any marriage main-
taining such a crazy high romantic
level of manic neuroticism as this
for very long. Of course the women
had always expected it to. But the
And anyway — where did the
men come from?
BOWREN moved down a wind-
ing lane between exotic blos-
soms, through air saturated with
the damp scent of night-blooming
THY NAME IS WOMAN
flowers. He walked cautiously
enough, but In a kind of daze, his
mind spinning. The appearance of
those men remained in his mind.
When he closed his eyes for a mo-
ment, he could see them.
Perfectly groomed, impeccably
dressed, smiling, vital, bronze-
skinned, delicate, yet strong fea-
tures; the kind of male who might
be considered, Bowren thought, to
be able to assert just the right de-
gree of aggressiveness without being
Why, he thought, they've found
perfect men, their type of men.
He dodged behind a tree. Here
it was again. Same play, same scene
practically, only the players were
two other people. A couple stand-
ing arm in arm beside a big pool
full of weird darting fish and throw-
ing upward a subdued bluish light.
Music drifted along the warm cur-
rents of air. The couple were sil-
, houetted by the indirect light. The
pose is perfect, he thought. The set-
ting is perfect.
"You're so wonderful, darling,"
the man was saying, "and I get so
lonely without you. I always see
your face, hear your voice, no mat-
ter how long you're away."
"Do you? Do you?"
"Always. Your hair so red, so
dark it seems black in certain lights.
Your eyes so slanted, so dark a
green they seem black usually too.
Your nose so straight, the nostrils
flaring slightly, the least bit too
much sometimes. Your mouth so
red and full. Your skin so smooth
and dark. And you're ageless, dar-
ling. Being married to you five
years, it's one exciting adventure."
"I love you so," she said. "You're
everything any woman could want
in a husband. Simply everything,
yet you're so modest with it all. I
still remember how it used to be.
Back there . . . with the other men
"You should forget about them,
"I'm forgetting, slowly though. It
may take a long time to forget com-
pletely. Oh, he was such an un-
pleasant person, so uninteresting
after a while. So inconsiderate, so
.self-centered. He wasn't romantic
at all. He never said he loved me,
and when he kissed me it was mere
routine. He never thought about
anything but his work, and when he
did come home at night, he would
yell at me about not having ordered
the right dinner from the cafelator.
He didn't care whether he used
hair remover on his face in the
mornings or not. He was surly and
sullen and selfish. But I could have
forgiven evcrj'thing else if he had
only told me every day that he loved
me, that he could never love any-
one else. The things that you do and
"I love you," he said. "I love you,
I love you. But please, let's not talk
about him anymore. It simply hor-
Bowren felt the sudden sickening
throbbing of his stomach. The de-
scription. Now the slight familiarity
of voice. And then he heard the
man say, murmuring, "Lois . . . dar-
ling Lois . . ."
Bowren shivered. His jowls dark-
ened, his mouth pressed thin by the
powerful clamp of his jaws. His
body seemed to loosen all over and
he fell into a crouch. Tiredness and
torn nerves and long-suppressed
emotion throbbed in him, and all
the rage and suppression and frus-
tration came back in a wave. He
yelled. It was more of a sound, a
harsh prolonged animal roar of
pain and rage and humiliation.
"Lois . . ." He ran forward.
She gasped, sank away as Bowren
hit the man, hard. The man sighed
and gyrated swinging his arms, tee-
tering and flipped backward into
the pool among the lights and the
weird fish. A spray of cold water
struck Bowren, sobering him a little,
sobered his burst of mindless pas-
sion enough that he could hear the
shouts of alarm ringing through
the trees. He turned desperately.
Lois cringed. He scarcely remem-
bered her now, he realized. She was
different. He had forgotten every-
thing except an image that had
changed with longing. She hadn't
been too impressive anyway, maybe,
or maybe she had. It didn't matter
He tried to run, tried to get away.
He heard Lois' voice, high and
shrill. Figures closed in around him.
He fought, desperately. He put a
few temporarily out of the way with
the neurogun, but there were al-
ways more. Men, men everywhere.
Hundreds of men where there
should be no men at all. Well-
groomed, strong, bronzed, ever-
smiling men. It gave him intense
pleasure to crack off a few of the
smiles. To hurl the gun, smash with
Then the men were swarming all
over him, the clean faces, the smil-
ing Ir.i'^rant men, and he went
down under the weight of men.
He tried to move. A blow fell
hard and his head smashed against
the rocks. He tried to rise up, and
other blows beat him down and he
was glad about the darkness, not be-
cause it relieved the pain, but be-
cause it curtained off the faces of
AFTER A TIME it was as
though he was being carried
through a dim half-consciousness,
able to think, too tired to move or
open his eyes. He remembered how
the men of Earth had rationalized
a long time, making a joke out of it.
Laughing when they hadn't wanted
to laugh, but to hate. It had never
been humorous. It had been a war
between the sexes, and the women
had finally won, destroying the men
psychologically, the race physically.
Somehow they had managed to go
on with a culture of their own.
The war between the sexes had
never really been a joke. It had
been deadly serious, right from the
beginning of the militant feminist
movements, long before the last big
war. There' had always been basic
psychological and physiological dif-
ferences. But woman had refused to
admit this, and had tried to be the
"equal" if not the better of men.
For so long woman had made it
strictly competitive, and in her sub-
conscious mind she had regarded
men as wonderful creatures, cap-
able of practically anything, and
that woman could do nothing better
than to emulate them in every pos-
sible way. There was no such thing
as a woman's role unless it had been
the same as a man's. That had gone
on a long time. And it hadn't been
a joke at all.
THY NAME IS WOMAN
How ironic it was, there at the
last! All of man's work through the
ages had been aimed at the stars.
And the women had assumed the
final phase of conquest!
For a long time women had been
revolting against the masculine sym-
bols, the levers, pistons, bombs, tor-
pedoes and hammers, all manifesta-
tions of man's whole activity of
overt, aggressive power.
The big H-bombs of the last great
war had seemed to be man's final
symbol, destructive. And after that,
the spaceships, puncturing space,
roaring outward, the ultimate mas-
culine symbol of which men had
dreamed for so long, and which
women had envied.
And then only the women could
stand the acceleration. It was a
physiological fact. Nothing could
change it. Nothing but what they
had done to Bowren.
All of man's evolutionary strug-
gle, and the women had assumed
the climax, assumed all the past
wrapped up in the end, usurped
the effect, and thereby psychologi-
cally assuming also all the thou-
sands of years of causation.
For being held down, being made
neurotic by frustration and the im-
possibility of being the "equal" of
men, because they were fundamen-
tally psychologically and physiologi-
cally different, women had taken to
space with an age-old vengeance.
Personal ego salvation.
But they hadn't stopped there.
What had they done? What about
the men? A man for every woman,
yet no men from Earth. That much
Bowren knew. Native Martians?
He had been transported some-
where in a car of some kind. He
didn't bother to be interested. He
couldn't get away. He was held
fast. He refused to open his eyes
because he didn't want to see the
men who held him, the men who
had replaced him and every other
man on Earth. The men who were
destroying the civilization of Earth.
The gimmicks whereby the
women had rejected Earth and left
it to wither and die in neglect and
bitter, bitter wonderment.
He was tired, very tired. The
movement of the car lulled him,
and he drifted into sleep.
He opened his eyes and slowly
looked around. Pretty pastel ceil-
ing. A big room, beautiful and
softly furnished, with a marked ab-
sence of metal, of shiny chrome,
of hanshness or brittle angles. It
was something of an office, too,
with a desk that was not at all busi-
ness-like, but still a desk. A warm
glow suffused the room, and the air
was pleasantly scented with natural
A woman stood in the middle of
the room studying him with de-
tached interest. She was beautiful,
but in a hard, mature, withdrawn
way. She was dark, her eyes large,
liquid black and dominating her
rather small sharply-sculptured
face. Her mouth was large, deeply
red. She had a strong mouth.
He looked at her a while. He
felt only a deep, bitter resentment.
He felt good though, physically. He
had probably been given something,
an injection. He sat up. Then he got
to his feet.
She kept on studying him. "A
change of clothes, dry detergent,
and hair remover for vour face are
in there, through that door," she
He said : "Right now I'd rather
"But don't you want to take off
that awful— beard?"
"The devil with it! Is that so im-
portant? It's natural isn't it for a
man to have hair on his face? I like
hair on my face."
She opened her mouth a little
and stepped back a few steps.
"And anyway, what could be less
important right now than the way
"I'm— I'm Gloria Munsel," she
said hesitantly. "I'm President of
the City here. And what is your
"Eddie Bowren. What are you
going to do with me?"
She shrugged. "You act like a
mad man. I'd almost forgotten
what you men of Earth were like.
I was pretty young then. Well,
frankly, I don't know what we're
going to do with you. No precedent
for the situation. No laws concern-
ing it. It'll be up to the Council."
"It won't be pleasant for me," he
said, "I can be safe in assuming
She shrugged again and crossed
her arms. He managed to control
his emotions somehow as he looked
at the smooth lines of her body un-
der the long clinging gown. She
was so damn beautiful! A high
proud body in a smooth pink gown,
dark hair streaming back and shiny
IT WAS torture. It had been for
a long time, for him, for all the
others. "Let me out of here!" he
yelled harshly. "Put me in a room
She moved closer to him and
looked into his face. The fragrance
of her hair, the warmth of her
reached out to him. Somehow, he
never knew how, he managed to
grin. He felt the sweat running
down his dirty, bearded, battered
face. His suit was torn and dirty.
He could smell himself, the stale
sweat, the filth. He could feel his
hair, shaggy and long, down his
neck, over his ears.
Her lips were slightly parted, and
wet, and she had a funny dark look
in her eyes, he thought. She turned
quickly as the door opened, and a
man came in. He was only slightly
taller than Gloria and he nodded,
smiled brightly, bowed a little,
moved forward. He carried a big
bouquet of flowers and presented
them to her.
She took the flowers, smiled,
thanked him, and put them on the
table. The man said. "So sorry,
darling, to intrude. But I felt I had
to see you for a few minutes. I left
the children with John, and dashed
right up here. I thought we might
have lunch together."
"You're so thoughtful, dear," she
The man turned a distasteful
look upon Bowren. He said. "My
dear, what is this?"
"A man," she said, and then
added. "From Earth."
"What? Good grief, you mean
they've found a way — ?"
"I don't know. You'd better go
back home and tend the yard today.
Dale. I'll tell you all about it when
I come home this evening. All
THY NAME IS WOMAN
"Well I — oh, oh yes, of course, if
you say so, darling."
"Thank you, dear." She kissed
him and he bowed out.
She turned and walked back to-
ward Bowren. "Tell me," she said.
"How did you get here alive?"
Why not tell her? He was help-
less here. They'd find out anyway,
as soon as they got back to Earth on
the cargo run. And even if they
didn't find out, that wouldn't mat-
ter either. They would be on guard
from now on. No man would do
again what Bowren had done. The
only chance would be to build secret
spaceships of their own and every-
time one blasted, have every mem-
ber of the crew go through what
Bowren had. It couldn't last. Too
much injury and shock.
As he talked he studied the office,
and he thought of other things. An
office that was like a big beautiful
living room. A thoroughly feminine
office. Nor was it the type of office
a woman would fix for a man. It
was a woman's office. Everything,
the whole culture here, was femi-
nine. When he had finished she
said. "Interesting. It must have
been a very unpleasant experience
He grinned. "I suffered. But
even though I've failed, it's worth
all the suffering, if you'll tell me —
where did all the ah — men come
She told him. It was, to say the
least, startling, and then upon re-
flection, he realized how simple it
all was. No aliens. No native Mar-
tians. A very simple and thoroughly
logical solution, and in a way, typ-
Hormone treatment and genetic
manipulation, plus a thorough re-
conditioning while the treatment
was taking place.
And the women had simply
turned approximately half of their
number into men!
She paused, then went on. "Il
was the only way we could see it,
Mr. Bowren. Earth was a man's
world, and we could never have be-
longed in it, not the way we wanted
to. Men wouldn't stand it anyway,
down there, having us going into
space, usurping their masculine
role. And anyway-^you men of
Earth had become so utterly unsat-
isfactory as companions, lovers, and
husbands, that it was obvious noth-
ing could ever be done about it.
Not unless we set up our own cul-
ture, our own civilization, our
"But meanwhile we die down
there," Bowren said. "Logic is nice.
But mass murder, and the death of
a whole world civilization seems
pretty cold from where I'm stand-
ing. It's pathological, but it's too
late to think about that. It's done
"But we're happy here," she said.
"For the first time in a long, long
time, we women feel like ourselves.
We feel truly independent. The men
around us are the kind of men we
want, instead of us being what they
want us to be, or even worse, the
men being what we want them to
be but resenting it and making life
unbearable for both. All through
the process of being changed into
men, our women undergo such a
thorough conditioning that they can
never be anything else but model
men in every sense. Their attitude
as women with which they started
treatment helped. They knew what
they wanted in men, and they be-
came what we wanted them to be,
"Very logical," Bowren said. "It
smells to heaven it's so logical." It
was purely impulse, what he did
then. He couldn't help it. It wasn't
logical either. It was emotional and
he did it because he had to do it
and because he didn't see any rea-
son why he shouldn't.
He put his arm out suddenly,
hooked her slim waist, and pulled
her to him. Her face flushed and
his eyes were very wide and dark as
she looked up at him.
"Listen," he said. "The whole
thing's insane. The lot of you are
mad, and though I can't help it, I
hate to see it happen this way.
What kind of men are these? These
smiling robots, these goons who are
nothing else but reflections in a
woman's mirror? Who'd want to be
a man like that. Who would really
want a man like that? And who
would want a woman who was just
what a man wanted her to be?
Where's the fire? Where's the in-
dividuality? Where's the conflict,
the fighting and snarling and rag-
ing that makes Hving, All this is
apathy, this is death! You don't
grow by being agreeable, but by
"What are you trying to sell
now?" she whispered.
He laughed. It was wild sound-
ing to him, not very humorous real-
ly, but still it was laughter. "Selling
nothing, buying nothing." He
pulled her closer and kissed her.
Her lips parted shghtly and he
could feel the warmth of her and
the quick drawing of breath. Then
she pushed him away. She raised
her hand and brushed it over his
She shook her head slowly. "It
feels rather interesting," she said,
"your face. I've never felt a man's
face before, that wasn't smooth, the
way it should be."
He laughed again, more sofdy
this time. "Why reform your men?
You women always wanted to do
"We don't reform men here," she
said. "We start them out right —
frorh the beginning."
She backed away from him. She
raised her hand to her face and her
fingers touched her lips. Wrinkles
appeared between her eyes and she
shook her head again. Not at him,
but at something, a thought per-
haps, he couldn't tell.
Finally she said. "That was an
inexcusable, boorish thing to do.
A typical thoughtless egomanical
Earth-male action if there ever was
one. Our men are all perfect here,
and in comparison to them, you're
a pretty miserable speciman. I'm
glad you showed up here. It's given
me, and other women, a good
chance for comparison. It makes
our men seem so much better even
than they were to us before."
He didn't say anything.
"Our men are perfect! Perfect
you understand? What are you
smiling about? Their character is
good. They're excellent conversa-
tionalists, well informed, always at-
tentive, moderate, sympathetic, in-
terested in life, and always inter-
ested in us."
"And I suppose they are also —
"This is nonsense," she said, her
THY NAME IS WOMAN
voice rising slightly. "You will take
that door out please. The Council
will decide what's to be done with
He nodded, turned, and went
through the door. There were two
men there waiting for him. They
were both blond, with, light blue
eyes, just medium height^ perfectly
constructed physically, perfectly
groomed, impeccably dressed. They
smiled at him. Their teeth had been
brushed every morning. One of
them wrinkled his nose, obviously
as a reaction to Bowren. The other
started to reach, seemed reluctant
to touch him.
"Then don't touch me, brother,"
Bowren said. "Put a hand on me,
and ril slug you." The man reached
away, and it gave Bowren an
ecstatic sensation to send his fist
against the man's jaw. It made a
cracking sound and the man's head
flopped back as his knees crumbled
and he swung around and stretched
out flat on his face on the long
"Always remember your eti-
quette," Bowren said. "Keep your
hands off people. It isn't polite."
The other man grunted some-
thing, still managing to smile, as he
rushed at Bowren. Bowren side-
stepped, hooked the man's neck in
his arm and ran him across the hall
and smashed his head into the wall.
He turned, opened the door jnto
Munsel's office, dragged both of
them in and shut the door again.
He walked down the corridor sev-
eral hundred feet before a woman
appeared, in some kind of uniform,
and said. "Will you come this way
He said he would.
IT WAS a small room, comfort-
ably furnished. Food came
through a panel in the wall when-
ever he pressed the right button. A
telescreen furnished entertainment
when he pushed another button.
Tasty mixed drinks responded to
He never bothered to take ad-
vantage of the facilities offered for
removing his beard, bathing, or
changing clothes. Whatever fate
was going to befall him, he would
just as soon meet it as the only man
on Mars who looked the part — ac-
cording to Bowren's standards, at
least — at least by comparison.
He thought of trying to escape. If
he could get away from the city and
into the Martian hills, he could die
out there with some dignity. It was
a good idea, but he knew it was im-
possible. At least so far, it was im-
possible. Maybe something would
come up. An opportunity and he
would take it. That was the only
thing left for him.
He was in there for what seemed
a long time. It was still, the light
remaining always the same. He
slept a number of times and ate sev-
eral times. He did a lot of thinking
too. He thought about the men on
Earth and finally he decided it
didn't matter much. They had
brought it on themselves in a way,
and if there was anything like cause
and effect operating on such a scale,
they deserved no sympathy. Man
had expressed his aggressive male
ego until he evolved the H-bombs
and worse, and by then the whole
world was neurotic with fear, in-
cluding the women. Women had al-
ways looked into the mirror of the
future (or lack of it), of the race,
and the more she had looked, the
more the insecurity. The atomic
wars had created a kind of final
feeling of insecurity as far as men
were concerned, forced them to be-
come completely psychologically and
physiologically self-sufficient. They
had converted part of their own
kind into men, their own kind
of men, and theoretically there
wouldn't be any more insecurity
brought on by the kind of male
psychology that had turned the
Earth around for so long.
All right, drop it right there then,
he thought. It's about all over. It's
all over but the requiem. Sometime
later he was in a mood where he
didn't mind it when an impersonal
face appeared on the screen and
looked right at him and told him
the Council's verdict. It was a
woman, and her voice was cold,
"Mr. Eddie Bowren. The Coun-
cil has reached a verdict regarding
what is to be done with you. You
are to be exterminated. It is pain-
less and we will make it as pleasant
"Thanks," Bowren said. A wom-
an's world was so polite, so manner-
ly, so remembering of all the social
amenities. It yvould be so difficult
after a while to know when anyone
was speaking, or doing anything
real. "Thanks," he said again. "I
will do all in my power to make my
extermination a matter of mutual
pleasure." By now he was pretty
drunk, had been drunk for some
time. He raised his glass. "Here's
to a real happy time of it, baby."
The screen faded. He sat there
brooding, and he was still brooding
when the door unlocked and opened
softly. He sat there and looked at
Gloria Munsel for a while, wonder-
ing why she was here. Why she
would look so provocative, so en-
chanting, so devastating, whatever
other words you cared to dream up.
She moved toward him with a
slight swaying motion that further
disturbed him. He felt her long
white fingers rubbing over the stiff
wiry beard of his face. "I dreamed
about the way that beard felt last
night," she said. "Silly of me wasn't
it? I heard of the way you smell,
of the way you yelled at me, so im-
politely. Why did I dream of it, I
said this morning, so now I'm here
to find out why."
"Get out and let me alone," Bow-
ren yelled. "I'm going to be exter-
minated. So let me alone to my
"Yes, I heard about that ver-
dict," she said. She looked away
from him. "I don't know why they
made that choice. Well, I do in a
way, they're afraid of you, your in-
fluence. It would be very disruptive
socially. Several of our men — "
"It doesn't matter why," Bowren
said. "What matters is that it will
be as pleasant as possible. If you're
going to kill a man, be nice about
She stared down at him. Chills
rippled down his back as her warm
soft fingers continued to stroke his
bearded chin and throat. He got
up. It was too uncomfortable and
it was torture. He said, "Get out
of here. Maybe I'm not a conform-
ist, but I'm damn human!"
She backed away. "But — ^but
what do you mean?"
He got up and put the flat of his
hands cupping her shoulder blades.
THY NAME IS WOMAN
Her eyes stared wildly, and her lips
. were wet and she was breathing
heavily. He could see the vein puls-
ing faster in her slim throat. She
had an exciting body.
He saw it then, the new slow
smile that crept across her face. His
left hand squirmed at the thick
piled hair on her shoulders and he
tugged and her face tilted further
and he looked at the parted pouting
lips. The palm of his right hand
brushed her jaw and his fingers took
her cheeks and brought her face
over and he spread his mouth hard
over her mouth. Her lips begged.
Hammers started banging away in
Music from the screen was play-
ing a crescendo into his pulse. They
swayed together to the music, her
head thrown back, her eyes closed.
She stepped back, dropped her
arms limply at her sides. There was
the clean sweet odor of her hair.
"I'd better gO' now," she whis-
pered. "Before I do something that
would result in my not being Presi-
HE WIPED his face. Don't beg,
he thought. The devil with her
and the rest. A man could lose
everything, all the women, not one,
but all of them. He could live alone,
a thousand miles from nowhere, at
the North Pole like Amundsen, and
it didn't matter. He could be killed
pleasantly or unpleasantly, that
didn't matter either. All that mat-
tered was that he maintain some
dignity, as a man.
He stood there, not saying any-
thing. He managed to grin. Final-
ly he said, "Goodbye, and may your
husband never say a harsh word to
you or do anything objectionable as
long as you both shall live, and may
he love you every hour of every day,
and may he drop dead."
She moved in again, put her arms
around him. There were tears in
her eyes. She placed her cheek on
his shoulder. "I love you," she whis-
pered. "I know that now."
He felt a little helpless. Tears,
what could you do with a woman's
She sobbed softly, talking brok-
enly. Maybe not to him, but to
someone, somewhere. A memory, a
shadow out of a long time back . . .
"Maybe it's . . . it's all a mistake
after all . . . maybe it is.' I've never
been too sure, not for a while now.
And then you — the way you talked
and looked — the excitement. I
don't know why. But the touch of
your beard — your voice. I don't
know what happened. We've car-
ried it to extremes, extremes, Eddie.
It was always this way with us —
once we were sure of our man, and
even before, when he was blinded
by new love, we tried to make him
over, closer to our idea of what was
right. But now I know something
. . . those faults and imperfections,
most of them were men's, the real
mens' chief attractions. Individual-
ity, that's the thing, Eddie, that's it
after all. And it's imperfections too,
maybe more than anything else. Im-
perfections . . . Oh, Eddie, you're
close, much closer to human nature,
to real vitality, through your imper-
fections. Not imperfections. Eddie
— your beard is beautiful, your dirt
is lovely, your yelling insults are
wonderful — and ..."
She stopped a minute. Her hands
ran through his hair. "When you
get a man made over, he's never
very nice after that, Eddie.
She sobbed, pulled his lips down.
"Eddie— I can't let them kill you."
"Forget it," he said. "No one can
do anything. Don't get yourself in
a jam. You'll forget this in a little
while. There's nothing here for a
guy like me, and I'm not for you."
She stepped way, her hands still
on his shoulders. "No — I didn't
mean that. I've got to go on living
in the world I helped make, among
the men we all decided we would
always want. I've got to do that.
Listen, Eddie, how did you intend
to get back to Earth?"
He told her.
"Then it's just a matter of get-
ting back aboard that same ship,
and into this secret room unob-
"That's all, Gloria. That and
keep from being exterminated
"I can get you out of here. We'll
have to do it right now. Take that
beard off, and get that hair
smoothed down somehow. I hate to
see it happen, but I've got to get
you out of here, and the only way to
do it is for you to be like one of the
He went to work on his face and
hair. She went out and returned
with a suit like the other men wore.
He got into it. She smiled at him, a
hesitant and very soft smile, and she
kissed him before they left the room
and cautiously went out of the City.
The way was clear across the
moonlit field and under the deep
d.ii k shadow of the ship. He kissed
her and then took hold of the lad-
der. She slipped a notebook of velo-
nex, full of micro-film, into his
hands. "Goodbye, Eddie," she said.
"Take this with you. It may give
you men down there a way out. I
never thought much before of how
mad it must be for you."
He took the folder. He looked up
at the double moons painting the
night a fantastic shifting wave of
changing light. And then he looked
down at Gloria Munsel again, at
the glinting shine of her hair.
"Goodbye," he said. "I might
stay after all — except that a lot of
men on Earth are waiting for me to
tell them something. They'll be sur-
prised. I — " He hesitated. Her
eyes widened. Warmth of emotion
moved him and he said, or started
to say, "I love you," and many other
things, but she interrupted him.
"Don't please, Eddie. Anything
you said now would sound just like
what my devoted husband says,
every day. I'd rather you wouldn't
say anything at all now, Eddie, just
"Goodbye then," he said again.
He looked back from the opened
door in the ship's cargo bin. Her
face was shining up at him, her lips
slightly parted, her cheeks wet. It
was a picture he would never be
able to forget, even if he wanted to.
"When you forget to shave in the
mornings, Eddie, think of me."
BOWREN stood up and ad-
dressed the investigation com-
mittee which had sent him to Mars.
He hadn't made any statements at
all up to this moment. The ten
members of the Committee sat there
THY NAME IS WOMAN
behind the half-moon table. None
of them moved. Their faces were
anxious. Some of them were per-
Eddie told them what he had
seen, what he had heard, his own
impressions about the whole thing,
about his escape. He left out cer-
tain personal details that were, to
him, unnecessary to this particular
The Committee sat there a while,
then started to talk. They talked at
once for a while, then the Chairman
rapped for order and stood up. His
face had an odd twist to it, and his
bald head was pocked with per-
Eddie Bowren took the book of
micfo-film from under his arm, the
one Gloria Munsel had given him.
He put it on the table. "That has
been thoroughly checked by scien-
tists, and their report is included. I
thought it surely was a false report,
until they checked it. The first page
there gives a brief outline of what
the micro-film contains."
The Chairman read, then looked
up. He coughed. He mopped at his
Eddie said. "As I saw it up there,
this is the way it's going to stay.
We'll never get into space, not with-
out using the methods that were
used with me. And they're too de-
structive. I've been examined. I
could never go through it again and
live. And that's the only way Earth
men can ever get into space. The
women aren't coming back to us.
They have husbands of their own
now. Believe me, those women
aren't going to leave their perfect
husbands. They've set up a com-
pletely feminine culture. It's theirs,
all theirs. They'll never give it up to
return to a masculine world, and
that's what Earth will always be to
them. There are only a few women
left on Earth, and they're of such
subnormal intelligence as to be only
a menace to any possible future
progeny. Our birthrate has stopped.
We arc living under extremely
abnormal circumstances without
women. I have, as I said before,
but one recommendation to this
Committee, and you take it for
what it's worth. I personally don't
care — much— and that isn't impor-
"What is your recommendation,
"I assure you that the formulas
in that book will work for us, Mr.
Chairman. Will you accept the re-
ports of the scientists who investi-
gated those formulas?"
"I will," the Chairman said
hoarsely. "I'll accept it. Why
Bowren grinned thinly at the ten
men. "There's the secret of doing
what the women have done. It'll
work for us too. Our only chance
for survival is to follow their pro-
cedure. We've got to start turning
at least a percentage of ourselves
One man leaned forward and put
his head on his arms. The others
sat there, in a kind of stunned numb
attitude, their eyes drifting vaguely.
The Chairman coughed and
looked around the silent hall, and
at the other ten men in it.
"Any volunteers?" he whispered.
• THE END -
Illustrated by Tom Beecham
There were but three days in which to decipher the
most cryptic message ever delivered to earth.
GEORGE HARRISON noticed
the flashing red light on the
instrument panel as he turned onto
the bridge to Balboa Island. Just
over the bridge, he pulled the car
to the curb and flipped the switch
with violence. "Harrison," he mut-
"How's the water, fella?" asked
the voice of Bob Mills, his assistant.
There was a beautiful moon over
the island. The surf lapped at the
tiers of the picturesque bridge. Soft
music was playing somewhere.
There was a tinkle of young laugh-
ter on the light sea breeze.
Harrison was vacationing and he
viewed the emergency contact from
Intersolar Spaceport with annoy-
"What do you want, Bob?"
"Sorry, George," Bob Mills said
more seriously. "I guess you got to
"Listen — " protested Harrison.
"Orders, George — orders from
Harrison took a long look at the
pleasant island street stretching out
before him. Sea-corroded street
lamps lit the short, island thorough-
fare. People in light blue jeans,
bronzed youths in skipper caps,
deep-tanned girls in terry-cloth.
"What the hell is it?" '
"Don't know, but it's big. Bet-
ter hurry." He clicked off.
Harrison skidded the car into a
squealing turn. Angrily, he raced
over the bridge and onto the roar-
ing highway. Thirty minutes later
Intersolar Spaceport, Los Angeles,
blazed ahead of him.
The main gate guards waved
him in immediately and two cycle
guards ran interference for him
through the scores of video news-
men who lined the spaceport street.
Bob Mills met him at the en-
trance to the Administration build-
"Sorry, George, but — "
"Yeah. Oh, sure. Now what the
hell is it all about?"
Mills handed him a sheaf of tele-
transmittals. They bore heavy secret
stamps. Harrison looked up quiz-
"You saw the video boys," Mills
said. "The wheels think there might
be some hysteria."
"Any reason for it?"
"Not that we know of — not that
/ know of anyway. The thing is
coming in awfully fast- — speed of
light times a factor of at least two,
Harrison whistled softly and
scanned the reports frowning.
"They contacted us — "
" — in perfect Intersolar Con-
vention code. Said they were com-
ing in. That's all. The port boys
have done all they could to find out
what to expect and prepare for it.
Somebody thought Engineering
might be needed — that's why they
sent for you."
"Used Intersolar Convention
code, eh," mused Harrison.
"Yes," said Mills. "But there's
nothing like this thing known in the
solar system, nothing even close to
this fast. Besides that, there was a
sighting several days ago that's be-
"One of the radio observatories
claims to have received a new sig-
nal from one of the star clusters . . ."
THE HUGE metal vessel settled
to a perfect contact with its as-
signed strip. It hovered over the
geometric center of the long run-
way and touched without raising a
speck of dust.
Not a sound, not a puff of smoke
issued from any part of it. Imme-
diately it rose a few feet above the
concrete and began to move toward
the parking strip. It moved with
the weightless ease of an ancient
dirigible on a still day. It was easily
the largest, strangest object ever
seen before at the spaceport.
A team of searchlight men swiv-
elled the large spot atop the tower
and bathed the ship in orange light.
"What's that mean?" asked Mills
paging his way through a book.
" 'Halt propulsion equipment,' I
think," said Harrison.
"It's a good thing the code mak-
ers were vague about that," smiled
Mills. "It's a good thing they didn't
say jets or rockets — 'cause this thing
hasn't got any."
That single word suddenly is-
sued from the alien ship.
"The Races of Wan greet you."
It might have been the voice of a
frog. It was low, gutteral, entirely
alien, entirely without either en-
thusiasm or trace of human emo-
"Jesus!" muttered Mills.
Scores of video teams focused
equipment on the gleaming alien.
"The Races of Wan desire con-
tact with you."
"In English yet!" amazed Mills.
"The basis of this contact to-
gether with its nature are depend-
ent upon you!"
The voice had become ugly.
There was nothing human about it
save only the words, which were in
"Your system has long been un-
der surveillance by the Races of
Wan. Your — ^progress has been
There was almost a note of con-
tempt, thought Harrison, in the last
"Your system is about to reach
others. It therefore becomes a mat-
ter of urgency that the Races of
Wan make contact.
"Your cultural grasp is as yet
quite small. You reach four of your
own system's planets. You have at-
tempted — with little success — colo-
nization. You anticipate further
"You master the physical con-
ditions of your system with difS-
culty. You are a victim of many of
the natural laws — natural laws
which you dimly perceive.
"But you master yourselves with
greatest difficulty, and you are in-
finitely more a victim of forces
within your very nature — forces
which you Iznow almost not at all."
"What the hell—" began Mills.
"Because of this disparity your
maturity as a race is much in doubt.
There are many among the cultures
of the stars who would consider
your race deviant and deadly.
There are a very few who would
welcome you to the reaches of
"But most desire more informa-
tion. Thus our visit. We have come
to gather data that will determine
your — disposition —
"Your race accepts the principle
of extermination. You relentlessly
seek and kill for commercial or po-
litical advantage. You live in mis-
trust and envy and threat. Yet, as
earthllngs, you have power. It is
not great, but it contains a threat.
We wish now to know the extent of
"Here is the test."
Suddenly an image resolved itself
on the gleaming metal of the ship
It was a blueprint.
A hundred cameras focused on it.
"Construct this. It is defective.
Correct that which renders it not
useful. We shall return in three days
for your solution."
"Good God!" exclaimed Harri-
son. "It's a — sword!"
"A what?" asked Mills.
"A sword — people used to chop
each other's heads off with them."
Almost at once the metal giant
was seen to move. Quickly it re-
traced its path across the apron, re-
mained poised on the center of the
runway, then disappeared almost
THE INTERSOLAR COUN-
CIL weathered the storm. The
representative of the colony on
Venus was recalled, his political
life temporarily ended. A vigilante
committee did for a time picket the
spaceport. But the tremendous
emotional outbursts of the first day
gradually gave way to a semblance
Video speakers, some of them
with huge followings, still de-
nounced the ISC for permitting the
alien to land in the first place.
Others clamored for a fleet to
pursue the arrogant visitor. And
there were many fools who chose to
ignore the implications of the
strange speech and its implied
threat. Some even thought it was a
But most men soon came to re-
store their trust in the scientists of
the Intersolar Council.
Harrison cast down the long sheet
of morning news that had rolled
out of the machine.
"The fools! They'll play poUtics
right up to the last, won't they?"
"What else?" asked Mills. "Play-
ing politics is as good a way as any
of avoiding what you can't figure
out or solve."
"And yet, what the hell are we
doing here?" Harrison mused.
"Listen to this."
He picked up a stapled sheaf of
papers from his desk.
" 'Analysis of word usage indi-
cates a complete knowledge of the
English language' — that's brilliant,
isn't it? "The ideational content
and general semantic tone of the
alien speech indicates a relatively
" 'Usage is current, precise . . .'
Bob, the man who wrote that re-
port is one of the finest semantics
experts in the solar system. He's the
brain that finally broke that ancient
Martian ceremonial language they
found on the columns."
"Well, mastermind," said Mills.
"What will the Engineering report
say when you get around to writing
"Engineering report? What are
you talking about?"
"You didn't read the memo on
your desk then? The one that re-
quested a preliminary report from
every department by 2200 today.'"
"Good God, no," said Harrison
snapping up the thin yellow sheet.
"What in hell has a sword got to do
"What's it got to do with Seman-
tics?" mocked Robert Mills,
Construct this. It is defective.
Correct that which renders it not
Harrison's eyes burned. He would
have to quit pretty soon and dictate
the report. There wasn't any use in
trying to go beyond a certain point.
You got so damned tired you
couldn't think straight. You might
as well go to bed and rest. Bob Mills
had gone long before.
He poured over the blueprint
again, striving to concentrate. Why
in hell had he not given up alto-
gether? What possible contribution
could an engineer make toward the
solution of such a problem?
You simply made the thing ac-
cording to a simple blueprint. You
tried out what you got, found out
what it was good for, found out
then what was keeping it from do-
ing that. You fixed it.
Well, the sword had been con-
structed. Fantastic effort had been
directed into producing a perfect
model of the print. Every minute
convolution had been followed to
an incredible point of perfection.
Harrison was willing to bet there
was less than a ten thousandths er-
ror — even in the handle, where the
curves seemed to be more artistic
It is defective.
What was defective about it? No-
body had actually tried the ancient
weapon, it was true. You didn't go
around chopping people's heads
off. But experts on such things had
examined the twelve-pound blade
and Jiad pronounced it "well bal-
anced" — whatever that meant. It
would crack a skull, sever arteries,
kill or maim.
What was there to correct? Could
you make it maim or kill better?
Gould you sharpen it so that it
would go through thick clothing or
fur? Yes. Could you make it a bit
heavier so that it might slice a metal
shield? Yes, perhaps. All of these
things had been half-heartedly sug-
gested. But nobody had yet pro-
posed any kind of qualitative
change or been able to suggest any
kind of change that would meet the
next admonition of the alien:
Correct that which renders it not
What actually could be done to a
weapon to make it useful? Matter
of fact, what was there about the
present weapon that made it not
useful. Apparently it was useful as
hell — useful enough to cut a man's
throat, pierce his heart, slice an arm
off him . . .
What were the possible swords;
what was the morphology of con-
Harrison picked up a dog-eared
There was the rapier, a thin,
light, extremely flexible kind of
sword (if you considered the word
"sword" generic, as the Semantics
expert had pointed out). It was
good for duels, man-to-man com-
bat, usually on what the ancients
had called the "field of honor."
There were all kinds of short
swords, dirks, shivs, stilettos, dag-
gers. They were the weapons of
stealth men— and sometimes wom-
en — used in the night. The assas-
sin's weapon, the glitter in the dark-
There were the machetes. Jungle
knives, cane-cutting instruments.
The bayonets . . .
You could go on and on from
there, apparently. But what did you
get? They were all more or less use-
ful, Harrison supposed. There was
nothing more you could do with any
kind of sword that was designed for
a specific purpose.
Harrison sighed in despair. He
had expected vastly more when he
had first heard the alien mention
"test". He had expected some com-
plex instrument, something new to
Terra and her colonies. Something
involving complex and perhaps un-
known principles of an alien tech-
nology. Something appropriate to
the strange metal craft that trav-
eled so very fast.
Or perhaps a paradox. A thing
that could not be constructed with-
out exploding, like a lattice of U235
of exactly critical size. Or an .instru-
ment that must be assembled in an
impossible sequence, Hke a clock
with a complete, single-pieced outer
shell. Or a part of a thing that
could be "corrected" only if the
whole thing were visualized, con-
structed, and tested.
No, the blueprint he held now in-
volved an awareness that must
prove beyond mere technology, or
at least Terran technology. Maybe
it involved an awareness that trans-
cended Terran philosophy as well.
Harrison slapped the pencil
down on his desk, rose, put his coat
on, and left the office.
". . . we are guilty as the angels
of the bible were guilty. Pride!
That's it, folks, pride. False
Harrison fringed the intent
crowd of people cursing when, fre-
quently, someone carelessly bumped
into him in an effort to get nearer
the sidewalk preacher.
"We tried to live with the angels
above. We wanted to fly like the
birds. And then we wanted to fly
like the angels . . ."
Someone near Harrison muttered
an "Amen". Harrison wove his way
through them wondering where the
hundreds of such evangelists had
come from so suddenly.
"Ya know, folks, the angels them-
selves got uppity once. They wanted
to be hke Gawd himself, they did.
Now, it's us."
There was a small flutter of
laughter among the crowd. It was
very quickly suppressed — so quickly
that Harrison gained a new appre-
ciation of the tenor of the crowd.
"That's right, laugh! Laugh at
our folly!" continued the thin-
faced, bright-eyed man. "It was a
sword that the angel used to kick
Adam and Eve out of the gar-
den. The sword figures all through
the bible, folks. You ought to read
the bible. You ought to get to know
it. It's all there. All there for you
to read . . ."
By Christ, thought Harrison.
Here was an aspect of the concept,
sword, he had not considered. Mor-
phological thinking required that
all aspects of a concept be explored,
all plotted against all others for pos-
sible correlation . . .
No. That was silly. The bible was
a beautiful piece of literature and
some people believed it inspired.
But the great good men who wrote
the bible had little scientific knowl-
edge of a sword. They would simply
describe the weapon as a modern
fiction writer would describe a
blaster — ^without knowing any more
about one than that it existed and
was a weapon.
Surely the ISC's weapons expert
could be trusted to know his swords.
"Go on home," Mills pleaded.
"You're shot and you know it. You
said yourself this isn't our show."
"You go home. Bob. I'm all
"George . . . you're acting
strange. Strange as hell."
"I'm all right. Leave me alone,"
snapped Harrison becoming irri-
Mills watched silently as the
haggard man slipped a tablet into
"It's all right, Bob," smiled Har-
rison weakly. "I know how to use
"You damn fool, you'll wreck
yourself . . ."
But the engineer ignored him. He
coiitinued paging his way through
the book — the bible, no less. George
Harrison and the bible!
Mills was awakened by the tele-
phone. Reaching in the dark for
it he answered almost without
It was Harrison.
"Bobj listen to me. If an angel
were to look at us right now, what
would he think?"
"For God's sake!" Mills cried
into the instrument. "What's up?
You still at the office?"
"Yeah, answer the question."
"Hold on, George. I'll be down
and get you. What you been drink-
"Bob, would he — she — think
much of us? Would the angel figure
we were . . ."
"How the hell would / know?"
"No, Bob, what you should have
asked is 'how the hell would he
In a daze Mills heard the click as
the other hung up.
"Mr. Harrison, your assistant is
looking for you."
"Yes, I know. Kirk. But will you
"Mr. Harrison, we only got one
of them. If we screw it up it'll take
time to make another and today's
the day, you know."
"I'll take the blame."
"Mr. Harrison, you look kind of
funny. Hadn't I better . . ."
Harrison was sketching a drawing
on a piece of waste paper. He was
working in quick rough strokes,
copying something from a book.
_ "They'll blame us both, Mr. Har-
rison. Anyway, it might hold up
somebody who's got a real idea . . ."
"7 have a real idea. Kirk. I'm
going to draw it for you."
The metal worker noticed that
the book Harrison was copying from
was a dictionary, a very old and
"Here, can you follow what I've
The metal worker accepted it
reluctantly, giving Harrison an odd,
almost patronizing look. "This is
"Look, Mr. Harrison. We worked
a long time together. You . . ."
Harrison suddenly rose from the
"This is our one chance of beat-
ing this thing, no rpatter how crazy
it seems. Will you do the job?"
"You believe you got something,
eh," the other said. "You think you
"I have to have."
"Gentlemen," said the President
of the Intersolar Council. "There
is very little to say. There can be no
denying the fact that we have ex-
hausted our efforts at finding a
"The contents of this book of re-
ports represents the greatest con-
centration of expert reasoning
perhaps ever applied to a single
"But alas, the problem remains —
He paused to glance at his wrist-
"The aliens return in an hour. As
you very well know there is one
action that remains for us. It is one
we have held to this hour. It is one
that has always been present and
one that we have been constantly
urged to use.
"Force, gentlemen. It is not in-
significant. It lies at our command.
It represents the technology of the
Intersolar alliance. I will entertain
a motion to use it."
There were no nay votes.
THE ALIEN arrived on sched-
ule. The ship grew from a
tiny bright speck in the sky to full
size. It settled to a graceful landing
as before on the strip and silently
moved into the revetment.
Again it spoke in the voice of the
frog, but the tone was, if anything,
less human this time.
"Earthmen, we have come for
At that instant a hundred gun
crews stiffened and waited for a
signal behind their carefully camou-
flaged blast plates and inside dum-
my buildings ....
Harrison was running. The Ad-
ministration building was empty.
His footsteps echoed through the
long, silent halls. He headed for
an emergency exit that led directly
to the blast tunnel. All doors were
The only way was over the wall.
He paused and tossed the awkward,
heavy object over the ten-foot wall.
Then, backing toward the building,
he ran and jumped for a hold onto
the wall's edge. He failed by several
inches to reach it.
"Earthmen, we have come for
He ran at the wall once more.
This time he caught a fair hold
with one hand. Digging at the
rough concrete with his feet he was
able to secure the hold and begin
pulling his body upward.
Quickly he was over the wall and
onto the apron, a hundred yards
from the shining metal ship.
"Wait!" he shouted. "Wait, for
Picking up the object he_ had
tossed over the wall, he raised it
above his head and ran toward the
"Wait! Here is the solution," he
Somehow the command to fire
was not given. There was a long
moment of complete silence on the
field. Nothing moved.
Then the voice of the frog
boomed from the alien ship.
"The solution appears to be cor-
The alien left three days later.
Regular communications would be-
gin within the week. Future meet-
ings would work out technical
difficulties. Preliminary trade agree-
ments, adequately safeguarded,
were drafted and transmitted to the
ship. The Races of Man and the
Races of Wan were in harmony.
"It was simply too obvious for
any of us to notice," explained Har-
rison. "It took that street-comer
evangelist to jar something loose —
even then it was an accident."
"And the rest of us — " started
"While all of us worked on the
assumption that the test involved a
showing of strength— a flexing of
"I still don't see—"
"Well, the evangelist put the
problem on the right basis. He
humbled us, exalted the aliens —
that is, he thought the alien was
somehow a messenger from God to
put us in our places."
"We were pretty humble our-
selves, especially the last day," pro-
"But humble about our tech-
nology" put in Harrison. "The
aliens must be plenty far beyond us
technologically. But how about
their cultural superiority. Ask your-
self how. a culture that could pro-
duce the ship we've just seen could
survive without — well destroying
"I still don't understand."
"The aliens developed pretty
much equally in all directions. They
developed force — plenty of it,
enough force to kick that big ship
through space at the speed of light
plus. They must also have learned
to control force, to live with it."
"Maybe you better stick to the
sword business," said Mills,
"The sword is the crux of the
matter. What did the alien say
about the sword? 'It is defective.'
It is defective, Bob. Not as an in-
strument of death. It will kill a man
or injure him well enough.
"But a sword — or any other in-
strument of force for that matter —
is a terribly ineffectual tool. It was
originally designed to act as a tool
of social control. Did it — or any
subsequent weapon of force — do a
good job at that?
"As long as man used swords, or
gunpowder, or atom bombs, or hy-
drogen bombs, he was doomed to a
fearful anarchy of unsolved prob-
lems and dreadful immaturity.
"No, the sword is not useful. To
fix it — to 'correct that which ren-
ders it not useful' — meant to make
it something else. Now what in the
hell did that mean? AVhat can you
do with a .sword?"
"You mean besides cut a man in
two with it," said Mills.
"Yes, what can you do with it
besides use it as a weapon? Here
our street-corner friend referred me
to the right place: The bible!
"They shall beat their swords into
ploughshares, and their spears into
pruning-hooks ; nation shall not lift
up sword against nation, neither
shall they learn war any more.
"The aliens just wanted to know
if we meant what we said."
"We better. It's going to take a
hell of a lot more than a silly
ploughshare to convince those
babies on that ship. But there's
more to it than that. The ability
of a culture finally to pound all of
its swords — its intellectual ones as
well as its steel ones — into plough-
shares must be some kind of least
common denominator for cultures
that are headed for the stars."
Beneath the stagnant water shadowed by water
lilies Harry found the fascinating world of the
rotifers — but it was their world, and they resented
By Robert Abernathy
Illustrated by Virgil Finlay
HENRY CHATHAM knelt by
the brink of his garden pond,
a glass fish bowl cupped in his thin,
nervous hands. Carefully he dipped
the bowl into the green-scummed
water and, moving it gently, let
trailing streamers of submerged
water weeds drift into it. Then he
picked up the old scissors he had
laid on the bank, and clipped the
stems of the floating plants, getting
as much of them as he could in the
When he righted the bowl and
got stifHy to his feet, it contained, he
thought hopefully, a fair cross-sec-
tion of fresh-water plankton. He
was jjlcased with himself for re-
iiicmbering that term from the book
111' had studied assiduously for the
List few nights in order to be able
lo I opn with Harry's inevitable
i licrr was even a shiny black
water beetle doing insane circles on
the surface of the water in the fish
bowl. At sight of the insect, the eyes
of the twelve-year-old boy, who
had been standing by in silent ex-
pectation, widened with interest.
"What's that thing. Dad?" he
asked excitedly. "What's that crazy
"I don't know its scientific name,
I'm afraid," said Henry Chatham.
"But when I was a boy we used to
call them whirligig beetles."
"He doesn't seem to think he has
enough room in the bowl," said
Harry thoughtfully. "Maybe we
better put him back in the pond.
"I thought you might want to
look at him through the micro-
scope," the father said in some sur-
"I think we ought to put him
back," insisted Harry.
fc.^ • ' ilk ' .*
*». 1. '
\if f ''
Mr. Chatham held the dripping
bowl obligingly. Harry's hand, a
thin boy's hand with narrow sensi-
tive fingers, hovered over the water,
and when the beetle paused for a
moment in its gyrations, made a
dive for it.
But the whirligig beetle, saw the
hand coming, and, quicker than a
wink, plunged under the water and
scooted rapidly to the very bottom
of the bowl.
Harry's young face was rueful;
he wiped his wet hand on his trou-
sers. "I guess he wants to stay," he
The two went up the garden
path together and into the house,
Mr. Chatham bearing the fish bowl
before him like a votive oflfering.
Harry's mother met them at the
door, brandishing an old towel.
"Here," she said firmly, "you
wipe that thing off before you bring
it in the house. And don't drip any
of that dirty pond water on my good
"It's not dirty," said Henry Chat-
ham. "It's just full of life, plants
and animals too small for the eye
to see. But Harry's going to see
them with his microscope." He ac-
cepted the towel and wiped the
water and slime from the outside of
the bowl; then, in the living-room,
he set it beside an open window,
where the life-giving summer sun
slanted in and fell on the green
THE BRAND-NEW microscope
stood nearby, in a good light. It
was an expensive microscope, no
toy for a child, and it magnified
four hundred diameters. Henry
Chatham had bought it because he
believed that his only son showed a
desire to peer into the mysteries of
smallness, and so far Harry had not
disappointed him; he had been ec-
static over the instrument. Together
they had compared hairs from their
two heads, had seen the point of a
fine sewing needle made to look
like the tip of a crowbar by the
lowest power of the microscope,
had made grains of salt look like
discarded chunks of glass brick, had
captured a house-fly and marvelled
at its clawed hairy feet, its great
red faceted eyes, and the delicate
veining and fringing of its wings.
Harry was staring at the bowl of
pond water in a sort of fascination,
"Are there germs in the water,
Dad? Mother says pond water is
full of germs."
"I suppose so," answered Mr.
Chatham, somewhat embarrassed.
The book on microscopic fresh-
water fauna had been explicit about
Paramecium and Euglena, dia-
tomes and rhizopods, but it had
failed to mention anything so vul-
gar as germs. But he supposed that
which the book called Protozoa, the
one-celled animalcules, were the
same as germs.
He said, "To look at things in
water like this, you want to use a
well-slide. It tells how to fix one in
the instruction book."
He let Harry find the glass slide
with a cup ground into it, and an-
other smooth slip of glass to cover
it. Then he half-showed, half-told
him how to scrape gently along the
bottom sides of the drifting leaves,
to capture the teeming life that
dwelt there in the slime. When the
boy understood, his young hands
were quickly more skillful than his
father's; they filled the well with a
few drops of water that was prom-
isingly green and murky.
Already Harry knew how to ad-
just the lighting mirror under the
stage of the microscope and turn
th6 focusing screws. He did so, bent
intently over the eyepiece, squinting
down the polished barrel in the
happy expectation of wonders.
Henry Chatham's eyes wandered
to the fish bowl, where the whirli-
gig beetle had come to the top again
and was describing intricate pat-
terns among the water plants. He
looked back to his son, and saw that
Harry had ceased to turn the screws
and instead was just looking — ^look-
ing with a rapt, delicious fixity.
His hands lay loosely clenched on
the table top, and he hardly seemed
to breathe. Only once or twice his
lips moved as if to shape an ex-
clamation that was snatched away
by some new vision.
"Have you got it, Harry?" asked
his father after two or three minutes
during which the boy did not move.
Harry took a last long look, then
glanced up, blinking slightly.
"You look, Dad!" he exclaimed
warmly. "It's — ^it's like a garden in
the water, full of funny little peo-
Mr. Chatham, not reluctantly,
bent to gaze into the eyepiece. This
was new to him too, and instantly
he saw the aptness of Harry's simile.
There was a garden there, of weird,
green, transparent stalks composed
of plainly visible cells fastened end
to end, with globules and bladders
like fruits or seed-pods attached to
them, floating among them; and in
the garden the strange little people
swam to and fro, or clung with odd
appendages to the stalks and
branches. Their bodies were trans-
parent like the plants, and in them
were pulsing hearts and other or-
gans plainly visible. They looked a
little like sea horses with pointed
tails, but their heads were different,
small and rounded, with big, dark,
All at once Mr. Chatham real-
ized that Harry was speaking to
him, still in high excitement.
"What are they, Dad?" he
begged to know.
His father straightened up and
shook his head puzzledly. "I don't
know, Harry," he answered slowly,
casting about in his memory. He
seemed to remember a microphoto-
graph of a creature like those in the
book he had studied, but the name
that had gone with it eluded him.
He had worked as an accountant
for so many years that his memory
was all for figures now.
He bent over once more to im-
merse his eyes and mind in the
green water-garden on the slide.
The little creatures swam to and
fro as before, growing hazy and
dwindling or swelling as they swam
out of the narrow focus of the lens ;
he gazed at those who paused in
sharp definition, and saw that, al-
though he had at first seen no visi-
ble means of propulsion, each crea-
ture bore about its head a halo of
thread-like, flickering cilia that
lashed the water and drew it for-
ward, for all the world Hke an air-
plane propeller or a rapidly turn-
"I know what they are!" ex-
claimed Henry Chatham, turning
to his son with an almost boyish ex-
citement. "They're rotifers! That
means 'wheel-bearers', and they
were called that because to the first
scientists who saw them it looked
like they swam with wheels."
Harry had got down the book
and was leafing through the pages.
He looked up seriously. "Here they
are," he said. "Here's a picture
that looks almost like the ones in
our pond water."
"Let's see," said his father. They
looked at the pictures and descrip-
tions of the Rotifera; there was a
good deal of concrete information
on the habits and physiology of
these odd and complex little ani-
mals who live their swarming lives
in the shallow, stagnant waters of
the Earth. It said that they were
much more highly organized than
Protozoa, having a discernible
heart, brain, digestive system, and
nervous system, and that their re-
production was by means of two
sexes like that of the higher orders.
Beyond that, they were a mystery;
their relationship to other life-
forms remained shrouded in doubt.
"You've got something interest-
ing there," said' Henry Chatham
with satisfaction. "Maybe you'll
find out something about them that
nobody knows yet."
He was pleased when Harry
spent all the rest of that Sunday
afternoon peering into the micro-
scope, watching the rotifers, and
even more pleased when the boy
found a pencil and paper and tried,
in an amateurish way, to draw and
describe what he saw in the green
Bi-yond a doubt, Henry thought,
h(.'re was a hobby that had captured
Harry as nothing else ever had.
MRS. CHATHAM was not so
pleased. When her husband
laid down his evening paper and
went into the kitchen for a drink of
water, she cornered him and hissed
at him: "I told you you had no
business buying Harry a thing like
that! If he keeps on at this rate,
he'll wear his eyes out in no time."
Henry Chatham set down his
water glass and looked straight at
his wife. "Sally, Harry's eyes are
young and he's using them to learn
with. You've never been much wor-
ried over me, using my eyes up
eight hours a day, five days a week,
over a blind-alley bookkeeping job."
He left her angrily silent and
went back to his paper. He would
lower the paper every now and then
to watch Harry, in his corner of the
living-room, bowed obliviously over
the microscope and the secret life
of the rotifers.
Once the boy glanced up from
his periodic drawing and asked,
with the air of one who proposes a
pondered question: "Dad, if you
look through a microscope the
wrong way is it a telescope?"
Mr. Chatham lowered his paper
and bit his underlip. "I don't think
so — no, I don't know. When you
look through a microscope, it
makes things seem closer — one way,
that is ; if you looked the other way,
it would probably make them seem
farther off. What did you want to
"Oh — nothing," Harry turned
back to his work. As if on after-
thought, he explained, "I was won-
dering if the rotifers could see me
when I'm looking at them."
Mr. Chatham laughed, a little
nervously, because the strange
fancies which his son sometimes
voiced upset his ordered mind. Re-
membering the dark glistening eyes
of the rotifers he had seen, how-
ever, he could recognize whence
this question had stemmed.
At dusk, Harry insisted on set-
ting up the substage lamp which
had been bought with the micro-
scope, and by whose light he could
go on looking until his bedtime,
when his father helped him arrange
a wick to feed the little glass-cov-
ered well in the slide so it would
not dry up before morning. It was
unwillingly, and only after his
mother's strenuous complaints, that
the boy went to bed at ten o'clock.
In the following days his interest
became more and more intense. He
spent long hours, almost without
moving, watching the rotifers. For
the little animals had become the
sole object which he desired to
study under the microscope, and
even his father found it difficult to
understand such an enthusiasm.
During the long hours at the of-
fice to which he commuted, Henry
Chatham often found the vision of
his son, absorbed with the invisible
world that the microscope had
opened to him, coming between
him and the columns in the ledgers.
And sometimes, too, he envisioned
the dim green water-garden where
the little things swam to and fro,
and a strangeness filled his thoughts.
On Wednesday evening, he
glanced at the fish bowl and no-
ticed that the water beetle, the
whirligig beetle, was missing. Cas-
ually, he asked his son about it.
"I had to get rid of him," said
the boy with a trace of uneasiness
in his manner. "I took him out and
"Why did you have to do that?"
"He was eating the rotifers and
their eggs," said Harry, with what
seemd to be a touch of remem-
bered anger at the beetle. He
glanced toward his work-table,
where three or four well-slides with
small green pools under their glass
covers now rested in addition to the
one that was under the microscope.
"How did you find out he was
eating them?" inquired Mr. Chat-
ham, feeling a warmth of pride at
the thought that Harry had discov-
ered such a scientific fact for him-
The boy hesitated oddly. "I — I
looked it up in the book," he an-
His father masked his faint dis-
appointment. "That's fine," he
said. "I guess you find out more
about them all the time."
"Uh-huh," admitted Harry, turn-
ing back to his table.
There was undoubtedly some-
thing a little strange about Harry's
manner; and now Mr. Chatham
realized that it had been two days
since Harry had asked him to
"Quick, take a look!" at the newest
wonder he had discovered. With
this thought teasing at his mind,
the father walked casually over to
the table where his son sat hunched
and, looking down at the litter of
slides and papers — some of which
were covered with figures and scrib-
blings of which he could make noth-
ing. He said diffidently, "How
about a look?"
Harry glanced up as if startled.
He was silent a moment; then he
slid reluctantly from his chair and
said, "All right."
Mr. Chatham sat down and bent
over the microscope. Puzzled and
a little hurt, he twirled the focusing
vernier and peered into the eye-
piece, looking down once more into
the green water world of the roti-
THERE WAS a swarm of them
under the lens, and they swam
lazily to and fro, their cilia beating
like miniature propellers. Their
dark eyes stared, wet and glisten-
ing; they drifted in the motionless
water, and clung with sucker-like
pseudo-feet to the tangled plant
Then, as he almost looked away,
one of them detached itself from
the group and swam upward, to-
ward him, growing larger and blur-
ring as it rose out of the focus of the
microscope. The last thing that re-
mained defined, before it became a
shapeless gray blob and vanished,
was the dark blotches of the great
cold eyes, seeming to stare full at
him — cold, motionless, but alive.
It was a curious experience.
Henry Chatham drew suddenly
back from the eyepiece, with an in-
voluntary shudder that he could not
explain to himself. He said halting-
ly, "They look interesting."
"Sure, Dad," said Harry. He
moved to occupy the chair again,
and his dark young head bowed
once more over the microscope. His
father walked back across the room
;viid sank gratefully into his arm-
chair- — after all, it had been a hard
day at the office. He watched Harry
work the focusing screws as if try-
ing to find something, then take his
prncil ant! begin to write quickly
It was with a guilty feeling of
prying that, after Harry had been
sent reluctantly to bed, Henry Chat-
ham took a tentative look at those
papers which lay in apparent dis-
order on his son's work table. He
frowned uncomprehendingly at the
things that were written there; it
was neither mathematics nor lan-
guage, but many of the scribblings
were jumbles of letters and figures.
It looked like code, and he remem-
bered that less than a year ago,
Harry had been passionately inter-
ested in cryptography, and had
shown what his father, at least, be-
lieved to be a considerable aptitude
for such things. . . But what did
cryptography have to do with
microscopy, or codes with — rotifers?
Nowhere did there seem to be a
key, but there were occasional
words and phrases jotted into the
margins of some of the sheets. lllr.
Chatham read these, and learned
nothing. "Can't dry up, but they
can," said one. "Beds of germs,"
said another. And in the corner of
one sheet, "1— Yes. 2— No." The
only thing that looked like a trans-
lation was the note: "rty34pr is the
Mr. Chatham shook his head be-
wilderedly, replacing the sheets
carefully as they had been. Why
should Harry want to keep notes on
his scientific hobby in code? he
wondered, rationalizing even as he
wondered. He went to bed still
puzzling, but it did not keep him
from sleeping, for he was tired.
Then, only the next evening, his
wife maneuvered to get him alone
with her and burst out passionate-
"Henry, I told you that micro-
scope was going to ruin Harry's
eyesight ! I was watching him today
when he didn't know I was watch-
ing him, and I saw him winking
and blinking right while he kept on
looking into the thing. I was
minded to stop him then and there, .
but I want you to assert your au-
thority with him and tell him he
can't go on."
Henry Chatham passed one nerv-
ous hand over his own aching eyes.
He asked mildly, "Are you sure it
wasn't just your imagination, Sally?
After all, a person blinks quite nor-
mally, you know."
"It was not my imagination!"
snapped Mrs. Chatham. "I know
the symptoms of eyestrain when I
see them, I guess. You'll have to
stop Harry using that thing so
much, or else be prepared to buy
"All right, Sally," said Mr. Chat-
ham wearily. "I'll see if I can't per-
suade him to be a little more mod-
He went slowly into the living-
room. At the moment, Harry was
not using the microscope; instead,
he seemed to be studying one of his
cryptic pages of notes. As his father
entered, he looked up sharply and
swiftly laid the sheet down — face
Perhaps it wasn't all Sally's imag-
ination; the boy did look nervous,
and there was a drawn, white look
to his thin young face. His father
said gently, "Harry, Mother tells
me she saw you blinking, as if your
eyes were tired, when you were
looking into the microscope today.
You know if you look too much, it
can be a strain on your sight."
Harry nodded quickly, too quick-
ly, perhaps. "Yes, Dad," he said. "I
read that in the book. It says there
that if you close the eye you're look-
ing with for a little while, it rests
you and your eyes don't get tired.
So I was practising that this after-
noon. Mother must have been
watching me then, and got the
"dh," said Henry Chatham.
"Well, it's good that you're trying
to be careful. But you've got your
mother worried, and that's not so
good. I wish, myself, that you
wouldn't spend all your time with
the microscope. Don't you ever
play baseball with the fellows any
"I haven't got time," said the
boy, with a curious stubborn twist
to his mouth. "I can't right now.
Dad." He glanced toward the
"Your rotifers won't die if you
leave them alone for a while. And
if they do, there'll always be a new
"But I'd lose track of them," said
Harry strangely. "Their lives are so
short — they live so awfully fast. You
don't know how fast they live."
"I've seen them," answered his
father. "I guess they're fast, all
right." He did not know quite what
to make of it all, so he settled him-
self in his chair with his paper.
But that night, after Harry had
gone later than usual to bed, he
stirred himself to take down the
book that dealt with life in pond-
water. There was a memory prick-
ing at his mind; the memory of the
water beetle, which Harry had
killed because, he said, he was eat-
ing the rotifers and their eggs. And
the boy had said he had found that
fact in the book.
Mr. Chatham turned through the
book; he read, with aching eyes, all
that it said about rotifers. He
searched for information on the
beetle, and found there was a whole
family of whirligig beetles. There
was some material here on the char-
acteristics and habits of the Gyrini-
dae, but nowhere did it mention the
devouring of rotifers or their eggs
among their customs.
He tried the topical index, but
there was no help there.
Harry must have lied, thought his
father with a whirling head. But
why, why in God's name should he
say he'd looked a thing up in the
book when he must have found it
out for himself, the hard way?
There was no sense in it. He went
back to the book, convinced that,
sleepy as he was, he must have
missed a point. The information
simply wasii't there.
He got to his feet and crossed the
room to Harry's work table; he
switched on the light over it and
stood looking down at the pages of
mystic notations. There were more
pages now, quite a few. But none
of them seemed to mean anything.
The earlier pictures of rotifers
which Harry had drawn had given
way entirely to mysterious figures.
Then the simple explanation oc-
ciured to him, and he switched off
the light with a deep feeling of re-
lief. Harry hadn't really known
that the water beetle ate rotifers;
he had just suspected it. And, with
his boy's respect for fair play, he
had hesitated to admit that he had
executed the beetle merely on sus-
That didn't take the lie away, but
it removed the mystery at least.
HENRY CHATHAM slept bad-
ly that night and dreamed dis-
torted dreams. But when the alarm
clock shrilled in the gray of morn-
ing, jarring him awake, the dream
in which he had been immersed
skittered away to the back of his
mind, out of knowing, and sat there
leering at him with strange, dark,
He dressed, washed the flat
morning taste out of his mouth with
coffee, and took his way to his train
and the ten-minute ride into the
city. On the way there, instead of
snatching a look at the morning pa-
per, he sat still in his seat, head
bowed, trying to recapture the
dream whose vanishing made him
uneasy. He was superstitious about
dreams in an up-to-date way, be-
lieving them not warnings from
some Beyond outside himself, but
from a subsconscious mOre knowing
than the waking conscious mind.
During the morning his work
went slowly, for he kef t pausing,
sometimes in the midst of totalling
a column of figures, to grasp at
some mocking half -memory of that
dream. At last, elbows on his desk,
staring unseeingly at the clock on
the wall, in the midst of the sub-
dued murmur of the office, his mind
went back to Harry, dark head
bowed motionless over the barrel of
his microscope, looking, always
looking into the pale green water-
gardens and the unseen lives of the
beings that • . .
All at once it came to him, the
dream he had dreamed, He had
been bending over the microscope,
he had been looking into the un-
seen world, and the horror of what
he had seen gripped him now and
brought out the chill sweat on his
For he had seen his son there in
the clouded water, among the
twisted glassy plants, his face turned
upward and eyes wide in the agon-
ized appeal of the drowning; and
bubbles rising, fading. But afound
him had been a swarm of the weird
creatures, and they had been drag-
ging him down, down, blurring out
of focus, and their great dark eyes
glistening wetly, coldly. . .
He was sitting rigid at his desk,
his work forgotten; all at once he
saw the clock and noticed with a
start that it was already eleven a.m.
A fear he could not define seized on
him, and his hand reached spas-
modically for the telephone on his
But before he touched it, it be-
After a moment's paralysis, he
picked up the receiver. It was his
wife's voice that came shrilly over
"Henry!" she cried, "Is that
"Hello, Sally," he said with stiff
lips. Her voice as she answered
seemed to come nearer and go far-
ther away, and he realized that his
hand holding the instrument was
"Henry, you've got to come home
right now. Harry's sick. He's got a
high fever, and he's been asking for
He moistened his lips and said,
"I'll be right home. I'll take a taxi."
"Hurry!" she exclaimed. "He's
been saying queer things. I think
he's delirious." She paused, and
added, "And it's all the fault of that
microscope you bought him!"
"I'll be right home," he repeated
TTIS WIFE was not at the door
-■--'- to meet him ; she must be up-
stairs, in Harry's bedroom. He
paused in the living room and
glanced toward the table that bore
the microscope; the black, gleam-
ing thing still stood there, but he
did not see any of the slides, and
the papers were piled neatly to-
gether to one side. His eyes fell on
the fish bowl; it was empty, clean
and shining. He knew Harry hadn't
done those things; that was Sally's
Abruptly, instead of going
straight up the stairs, he moved to
the table and looked down at the
pile of papers. The one on top was
almost blank ; on it was written sev-
eral times: rty34pr . . . rty34pr. . .
His memory for figure combinations
served him; he remembered what
had been written on another page :
"rty34pr is the pond."
That made him think of the
pond, lying quiescent under its
green scum and trailing plants at
the end of the garden. A step on the
stair jerked him around.
It was his wife, of course. She
said in a voice sharp-edged with ap-
prehension: "What are you doing
down here? Harry wants you. The
doctor hasn't come; I phoned him
just before I called you, but he
He did not answer. Instead he
gestured at the pile of papers, the
empty fish bowl, an imperative
question in his face.
"I threw that dirty water back in
the pond. It's probably what he
caught something from. And he
was breaking himself down, hump-
ing over that thing. It's your fault,
for getting it for him. Are you com-
ing?" She glared coldly at him,
turning back to the stairway.
"I'm coming," he said heavily,
and followed her upstairs.
Harry lay back in his bed, a low
mound under the covers. His head
was propped against a single pillow,
and his eyes were half-closed, the
lids swollen-looking, his face hotly
flushed. He was breathing slowly as
But as his father entered the
room, he opened his eyes as if with
an effort, fixed them on him, said,
"Dad . . . I've got to tell you."
Mr. Chatham took the chair by
the bedside, quietly, leaving his wife
to stand. He asked, "About what,
"About — things." The boy's eyes
shifted to his mother, at the foot of
his bed. "I don't want to talk to
her. She thinks it's just fever. But
Henry Chatham lifted his gaze to
meet his wife's. "Maybe you'd bet-
ter go downstairs and wait for the
She looked hard at him, then
turned abruptly to go out. "All
right," she said in a thin voice, and
closed the door softly behind her.
"Now what did you want to tell
"About them ... the rotifers,"
the boy said. His eyes had drifted
half-shut again but his voice was
clear. "They did it to me . . . on
"I don't know. . . They used one
of their cultures. They've got all
kinds: beds of germs, under the
leaves in the water. They've been
growing new kinds, that will be
worse than anything that ever was
before. . . They live so fast, they
work so fast."
Henr/ Chatham was silent, lean-
ing forward beside the bed.
"It was only a little while, before
I found out they knew about me. I
could see them through my micro-
scope, but they could see me too. . .
And they kept signaling, swimming
and turning. . . I won't tell you how
to talk to them, because nobody
ought to talk to them ever again.
Because they find out more than
they tell. . . They know about us,
now, and they hate us. They never
knew before — that there was any-
body but them. , . So they want to
kill us all."
"But why should they want to do
that?" asked the father, as gently as
he could. He kept telling himself,
"He's delirious. It's like Sally says,
he's been wearing himself out,
thinking too much about — the roti-
fers. But the doctor will be here
pretty soon, the doctor will know
what to do."
"They don't like knowing that
they aren't the only ones on Earth
that can think. I expect people
would be the same way."
"But they're such little things,
Harry. They can't hurt us at all."
The boy's eyes opened wide,
shadowed with terror and fever. "I
told you. Dad — They're growing
germs, millions and billions of them,
new ones. . . And they kept telling
me to take them back to the pond,
so they could tell all the rest, and
they could all start getting ready —
He remembered the shapes that
swam and crept in the green water
gardens, with whirling cilia and
great, cold, glistening eyes. And he
remembered the clean, empty fish
bowl in the window downstairs.
"Don't let them, Dad," said
Harry convulsively. "You've got to
kill them all. The ones here and the
ones in the pond. You've got to kill
them good — because they don't
mind being killed, and they lay lots
of eggs, and their eggs can stand al-
most anything, even drying up. And
the eggs remember what the old
"Don't worry," said Henry Chat-
ham quickly. He grasped his son's
hand, a hot limp hand that had
slipped from under the coverlet.
"We'll stop them. We'll drain the
"That's swell," whispered the
boy, his energy fading again. "I
ought to have told you before. Dad
— ^but first I was afraid you'd laugh,
and then — I was just . . . afraid . . ."
His voice drifted away. And his
father, looking down at the flushed
face, saw that he seemed asleep.
Well, that was better than the sick
delirium — ^saying such strange, wild
Downstairs the doctor was saying
harshly, "All right. All right. But
let's have a look at the patient."
Henry Chatham came quietly
downstairs; he greeted the doctor
briefly, and did not follow him to
When he was left alone in the
room, he went to the window and
stood looking down at the micro-
scope. He could not rid his head of
strangeness: A window between
two worlds, our world and that of
the infinitely small, a window that
looks both ways.
After a time, he went through the
kitchen and let himself out the back
door, into the noonday sunlight.
He followed the garden path, be-
tween the weed-grown beds of vege-
tables, until he came to the edge of
the little pond. It lay there quiet in
the sunlight, green-scummed and
walled with stiff rank grass, a lone
dragonfly swooping and wheeling
above it. The image of all the stag-
nant waters, the fertile breeding-
places of strange life, with which it
was joined in the end by the tortu-
ous hidden channels, the oozing
pores of the Earth.
And it seemed to him then that
he glimpsed something, a hitherto
unseen miasma, rising above the
pool and darkening the sunlight
ever so little. A dream, a shadow —
the shadow of the alien dream of
things hidden in smallness, the dark
dream of the rotifers.
The dragonfly, having seized a
bright-winged fly that was sporting
over the pond, descended heavily
through the sunlit air and came to
rest on a broad lily pad. Henry
Chatham was suddenly afraid. He
turned and walked slowly, wearily,
up the path toward the house.
■ THE END -
Personalities in Science
NEWTON'S apple is always given
a starring role whenever the
story of the discovery of the law of
gravity is told; yet there is another
object which deserves a place in the
annals of history that is equal to
that now famous apple. There's a
splendid bronze lamp which hangs
today, as it did in the 16th century,
from the roof of the cathedral in
Pisa. The slightest motion will make
this lamp sway. This object was to
Galileo what the apple was to New-
ton. Putting the index finger of one
hand on the wrist of the other and,
using this natural clock, Galileo
found that always, whether the
lamp was describing large arcs or
small ones, each swing or vibration
took exactly the same time as any
other. This seemingly simple discov-
ery was the cornerstone of the sci-
ence of motion. It was the humble
beginning which served as the in-
spiration for such men as John
Keppler, who gave us the laws of
planetary motion, and for Newton's
laws of gravity and motion.
Somehow, in the minds of most
of us, Galileo Galilie has come
down through the centuries vague-
ly connected with a telescope. But
he was a man of diversified talents
almost equal to those of the great
Leonardo da Vinci. His family had
been distinguished, but poverty had
overtaken his parents; and like un-
told thousands of such parents they
wanted their son to have a good,
solid education as a doctor in order
to insure his future. The one big
worry that they had was that this
son of theirs, vi'ho showed such
great mechanical aptitude at an
early age, would become interested
in mathematics and so be drawn
away from the security of the career
they had chosen for him. The fear
was obviously a well-founded one.
Besides his skill in mechanics,
Galileo was far above average in
such arts as sculpture and music.
He painted with such skill and
imagination that he defied his par-
ents, as so many of us do, and chose
an artist's career for himself. When
he entered the University of Padua
to begin his studies, he realized that
in order to be a really good artist he
would have to study geometry. Now
a whole new field was opened be-
He was able to solve the most dif-
ficult problems with ease, and he
delighted in simplifying the solu-
tions of others which had stood as
PERSONALITIES IN SCIENCE
examples of greatness for hundreds
of years. Naturally there was no
more talk about being either a doc-
tor or an artist; he had found the
mistress who was to hold him until
the end of his days.
Galileo found his work bound by
laws and systems which had stood
as irrefutable evidences of truth for
almost two thousand years. When
he rebelled against accepting these
laws as gospel, he proved his con-
tentions with experiments and facts
so salient that he could scarcely be
doubted. He climbed to the top of
the leaning tower of Pisa to refute
Aristotle. He invented a telescope
to refute Ptolemv.
ARISTOTLE had taught that
v/hen two bodies, of the same
substance but differing weights,
were dropped from an equal height,
the heavier body would reach the
earth first. Believe it or not, no one
had questioned this statement for
1,900 years! When Galileo had sat-
isfied himself that the theory was all
wrong he set out to prove his point.
He used the now famous Leaning
Tower as a proving ground. He
dropped two shots of different
weights from the top of the tower,
and when they reached the ground
at the same time he felt that he had
definitely been vindicated. But all
this step toward the real truth
earned him was enmity. From all
over the then civilized world pro-
fessors and students rose in a body
against him. Aristotle had said that
the objects would not reach the
earth at the same time — it said so
right in his books. Progress such as
this was too fast for the times and
Galileo was hounded from the scene
of his victory and forced to seek
refuge in Florence.
Now his lot was miserable. He
had his Mother, a brother, and two
sisters depending on him for sup-
port; and for a radical such as he
was there wasn't much of anything
like money coming his way. He
tutored pupils to help stretch his
meager earnings, and as he taught
them he continued to learn himself.
He had never disputed Ptolemy's
laws — those that stated that the
vaults of heaven revolved about the
Earth — because he'd believed it
himself. But now he began to be-
lieve that Copernicus had been
right. Although he knew that to
teach these theories was dangerous
heresy, he began to teach that
the Earth revolved about the sun,
as did all the other known planets
of the time. To prove his theory he
invented a far better telescope than
had ever before been made.
With this new telescope he saw
for the first time that the moon was
not round and flat and smooth as
both Aristotle and Ptolemy had
said; but that it had mountains and
hollows like the Earth. He was the
first to see the rings of Saturn, and
found that there were lesser planets
revolving around Jupiter just as
other planets revolve around the
sun. He proposed the theory of an
unlimited universe, too, and one
noble critic tried to crush him by
saying : "There are only seven open-
ings in the head — two ears, two
eyes, two nostrils, and one mouth,
there are only seven metals, and
only seven days of the week, there-
fore there can be only seven plan-
ets." When Galileo made the un-
believers look through the telescope,
and the scoffers saw exactly what
he had told them they would see in
the heavens, they cried, "Oh, well,
they aren't visible to the naked eye,
and so they cannot influence the
Earth; and being useless, they do
When our stargazer went on to
announce that not only did the
Earth revolve around the sun, but
that the sun also revolved; the
Church stepped in. An investigating
commission was established to study
the teachings of Copernicus. They
called in Galileo and warned him
that this was pure heresy which he
was teaching; they ordered him to
return to the teaching of Ptolemy's
nine-hundred year old theory that
the vaults of heaven revolved
around the Earth. If he refused he
was warned that he would have to
take the consequences; which in
those days consisted of burning at
the stake, or being crushed to death
in an iron maiden.
GALILEO managed to avoid
these Consequences for the next
16 years, which he spent in study
and in strengthening his theories
even more. In 1627 he could no
longer contain himself under this
thought control and wrote a book
defending Copernicus. The inquisi-
tion pounced, and for his disobedi-
ence he was made to wear sack-
cloth and to kneel in ashes and re-
quired to swear that he would never
say or believe again that the Earth
revolved around the sun. He was
told that should be refuse to swear
this oath he would be condemned
to torture and burning. The inquisi-
tion won, fear of torture drove
Galileo to vow that he would do
that which they required of him.
He was carted off to prison, and
though later released he spent the
rest of his days with spies watching
him to keep him on the path that
the Church had said he must fol-
He died at 78, blind so that he
could no longer see the wonders of
the skies, and thoroughly crushed.
But not before he had given the
world a heritage of knowledge that
man after man used as a foundation
for the progress of the natural sci-
ences. Galileo was so far ahead of
his time that he had put forth the
theory that there were no elements
in the universe that differed from
those on the Earth. The final estab-
lishment of this proof was made by
Dr. Ira Bowen as recently as 1937!
- THE END -
The BLACK TIDE
Space in its far dark reaches can be fickle
with a man; it can shatter his dreams, fill
him with fear and hate. It can also cure a
man — ij he is strong enough.
By Arthur G. Stangland
Illustrated by Ed Voligursky
IT FILLED all the ebony depths
of space. Twirling slowly in awe-
some majesty, the meteor scintil-
lated like a massive black diamond.
And with its onrush came a devas-
tating sense of doom. He looked
everywhere. To the front, to the
side, and below — there was no es-
cape. Transfixed, he stared at the
great rock flashing in the fire, of
myriad suns as it —
Bill Staker, passenger rocket cap-
tain for Interplanetary Lines, came
fully awake in his New York hotel
room. For a minute, he lay unmov-
ing on his bed, savoring the deli-
cious sensation of weight. No
queazy stirring in the pit of his
belly for lack of gravity, no forced
squinting because of muscular re-
With a muttered curse he un-
wound himself from his covers and
sat up. For a moment he rested his
head in his hands, thinking, only a
nightmare, thank God, only a
He lifted his head, and found
cold sweat on his hands. Then
sighing in relief he swung his feet
over the edge of his bed.
A glance at the clock showed
10:45 p.m. Monday, June 10th,
2039. Heavily, he clumped across
the room in the peculiar flat-footed
gait of a spaceman accustomed to
magnetic contact shoes. Cigarette
in hand he sank into a heavy chair,
touched a button on the arm, then
sat back to watch the telescreen.
It was a rehash of the day's news.
In nasal tones a senator was accus-
ing the Republicrats of raising
taxes. Then followed scenes from a
spectacular fire. Suddenly, Bill's
drooping eyelids popped open.
A commentator was saying,
". . . the two rockets of the Staker
The small meteor ripped through
the Space Bird's crew compart-
ment, blinding the radar scope
and severing communication with
THE BLACK TIDE
Space Mining Company, ready for
a scouting trip to the asteroid Beta
A close-up of Tom Staker fol-
lowed. Tall, rangy, with blond hair
like straw in the wind. Bill laid his
cigarette in a tray and with critical
interest leaned forward to look at
"We figure to find uranium,"
Tom was saying, with a glance to-
ward the vertical rockets, "all
through the Beta Quadrant. Our
departure is waiting on the return
of my brother, Bill, from his Mars-
A reporter asked Tom, "Private
enterprise is unique in these days
of virtual monopolies. What's the
story behind it?"
"Well, our great-grandfather,
George Staker, believed passionate-
ly in private enterprise," Tom be-
gan. "Somewhere around 1952 or
1953 he established a trust fund for
his third generation descendants to
finance any project they think
worthwhile. And he got an ironclad
guarantee from the government
diat the trust fund for private en-
terprise would be honored in the
future. You see, my ancestor was
quite a romanticist. In one of his
books entitled 'The Philosophy of
Science' he says 'People of this
dawning Atomic Age little realize
they are living in a vast dream. A
dream that is slowly taking objec-
tive shape. A tool here, a part there,
a plan on some drafting table. Men
of ideas are pointing the way, struc-
turing the inner dream world of a
generation. Even today's science
fiction literature contains important
ideas for the dreams-become-reality
of tomorrow.' " Tom finished up.
"With our Project Venture, Bill
and I are going to bring a dream
into reality — making a little on the
side, of course!"
The commentator ended his in-
terview with: "And so, we await
with great interest the carrying out
of George Staker' s dream, a man
whose Twentieth Century ideas of
private enterprise have blown a
breath of fresh air into an age of
dull dreams and little imagina-
Bill Staker pressed the control
button, darkening the screen.
"Dream boy, Tom, you damned
fool." He got up and scuffed into
the bathroom to stare into the mir-
ror. Twenty-five years old, and al-
ready lines were grooving both sides
of his nostrils. Tousled black hair
like brush hanging over a high
bank, and ridged creases in his fore-
head. Little lumps of flesh bulging
over the corners of his mouth from
constant tension. The tension of
outwitting space on each trip
'tween the planets. But worst of all
was the look in his gray eyes. The
look that never went away any-
more. The look of a man who has
spent too much time staring into
the enigma of the Universe and —
"I'm scared — scared as hell!" he
blurted at his reflection. "And if I
don't get hold of myself, I'm
through — washed up!"
Space was no place for a man
with imagination — too much im-
agination. You stared into the
empty blackness here, you stared
into the inky blackness there, be-
hind you the Earth a tiny pinpoint,
the Earth that meant rock solid
footing, the caress of wind and land
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
in all directions. But out there in
I he aching void you raced for Mars
like a mouse scuttling across a
lighted floor. Raced because of
what you couldn't see, couldn't
fathom. Yet, you knew It was out
there, staring back inscrutably.
He rubbed the flat of his hand
across his right cheek, sighing from
emotional weariness. Then he
scuffed back into the room. On the
way he collected a bottle of bour-
bon, mixer and glass, and dropped
into the big chair.
As he worked on the bottle, all
the anxiety and apprehension in
him faded. Once he stared at the
bottom of his empty glass. Funny
how a guy could panic all of a sud-
den. He remembered it clearly now.
Riding into town yesterday from
the rocket port, he started brooding
over details of Project Venture.
Suddenly, an overwhelming black
tide of fear worse than he had ever
experienced confronted him. Like
a man on the verge of insanity he
licked his dry lips, staring about
him and feeling as if something
strange and terrible were taking
possession of his mind. And in the
middle of his spell a cloud blacker
than space itself started reaching
for him. That was when he yelled
to the startled bus driver to let him
out at this hotel. Maybe he could
t;("t hold of himself here.
Now, his arms sprawled over the
sides of the heavy chair, he drifted
off into a snoring stupor.
IN rilK morning he awoke to a
splitting headache. Somehow it
helped to hold his head between
both hands and swear at it in a run-
ning mutter. Finally he roused him-
self to go to the bathroom for a cold
shower. Afterward, donning his
powder blue Captain's uniform, he
went down to breakfast.
He dawdled over crisp bacon and
eggs, glanced at morning editions,
and all the while the ashes of last
night's emotional holocaust drifted
through him. Drifted in fitful va-
grant thoughts. He should have
said no that first day a year ago.
The big law firm made a great to
do over the old document from his
ancestor. Unique, they said. The
chance of a lifetime. And by the
end of the first meeting Tom was
all fired up. Mining atomic power
metals in the asteroid belt would
bring the biggest returns, he said.
They would be the only ones al-
lowed to compete with the Asteroid
Mining Corporation monopoly.
And now Tom was building up
public excitement in the venture, as
if it were a circus. The damned
fool. Why had he let his brother
talk him into—
Suddenly, his line of thought
snapped, and he was acutely aware
of staring eyes.
He looked to his left, then felt a
warm flush technicolor his cheeks.
Her blond curls making a soft
halo around her jauntily redced hat,
the space hostess from his ship gave
him a warm smile. She was ade-
quately stacked. Bill reflected, but
there was levelheaded firmness and
resolution in her too. That was why
she was hard to handle.
"Good morning, Bill."
He didn't like the accusing gleam
in her eye but he was glad to see
THE BLACK TIDE
"Sit down, Christy. Have some
coffee." He held her hands a mo-
ment, then eased her into the op-
He tried disarming her with a
show of great enthusiasm. But the
way she settled herself into the seat,
all the while regarding him with
those clear penetrating blue eyes,
told him she was going on no snipe
"When you kissed me goodby at
the port yesterday, Bill, you said
you were going directly to the field
to be with Tom." It wasn't a state-
ment — ^it was an accusation.
With an elaborate show of cas-
ualness he shrugged his shoulders.
"Well, 1 was fagged out from this
last trip. Decided I'd do better get-
ting a full night's rest by myself at
The waiter brought her coffee,
and she left it to cool. She folded
her long tapering fingers on the
table, and a delicate lift to her fine
brows gave her an expression of
Her smile was regretful. "Rocket
men don't drink. Bill. You know it
too. Bad for muscular coordina-
He said in some surprise, "You
mean it's that loud?"
"Uh-huh." Christv leaned for-
ward. "What is it, Bill? You
haven't been yourself for weeks.
You looked haggard yesterday and
when you left the ship you were al-
most running, as if trying to escape
from something. And now this
strange avoidance of Tom. He got
hold of me this morning early,
wanting to know where you were.
And I guess it's pretty important
that he sees you, Bill. Seems there's
been trouble at the field."
It was as if someone had prodded
him in an agonizingly sore place
and he reacted instinctively. He let
his knife clatter on his plate, aware
that he was dramatizing himself.
"When I'm rcndy for a woman's
sticking her nosi- into my affairs,
I'll send her a '^pc-cial invitation!"
Christy's delicate nostrils flared.
and her bosom rose and fell rapid-
ly. Then she seemed to get hold of
herself. "I'm sorry if you got that
imprcs.sion, Bill, I was only trying
to help you both."
I. Iierishiiig his irritation, Bill
went on, "Seems to me you're bend-
ing over backward helping Tom.
playing messenger, private eye — "
Christy broke in with a catch in
her throat, "Oh, Bill, please! Let's
not quarrel as soon as we get back."
Bill shoved his dishes aside, the
tone of her voice reaching into him
to dampen down the fires of anger.
Then he managed a slow faint grin,
"Okay, Christy," He reached for
the check, saying, "Well, if you can
stand my company, would you like
to come along out to the field?"
With her eyes glistening, she an-
swered, "I'd love to,"
THE PRIVATE rocket landing
field of the Staker Space Mining
Company was an hour's drive north
of the city. Three miles from the
field they made out the two gleam-
ing snouts of the rockets pointing
skyward. Then as they approached
the edge of the field. Bill turned off
toward a two story frame structure
that served as ofBce and warehouse,
Bill said, "Might as well check
to see if Tom is in the office first."
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
At the door Bill poked his head
in and shouted up the stairwell,
A chair scraped, and footsteps
sounded across the upstairs floor.
"Yeah— that you. Bill? C'mon up!"
They found Tom at a desk before
a wide window view of the field.
On the office walls hung big graphs
of fuel consumption curves, trajec-
tory plots from Earth to the aster-
oid belt, ballistics computations,
oxygen consumption curves per
unit metabolism per man.
' Christy looking at the rockets,
said, "Gee, Tom, they look beauti-
ful. Like monsters straining their
Tom looked up at the girl's pro-
file, and to Bill who was watching,
he bore the look of a man savoring
what he saw.
"Yes, they are. That first one's
mine, the Space Bird. The other is
Bill's, the Space Dragon."
Bill cast a professional eye over
the charts and graphs on the wall,
while far down in his subconscious
a sharp twinge of jealousy ful-
minated, tangling with his fears of
space in a hybrid monstrosity. Then
like lava in a plugged volcano his
obsession found a new outlet. The
fear of space now came up dis-
guised as hatred for Tom.
In an unusually calm voice Bill
said, "Well, I see you have every-
thing just about completed."
"Yeah," Tom glanced up with a
significant look. "Someone else was
interested in those charts and
graphs too the other day. Someone
who didn't bother to use the door."
"What d'you mean — somebody
Tom nodded. "Yep. Jimmied a
window downstairs. But I don't
think they got anything, because the
door to the office was still locked
when the watchman surprised
them. They got away in the dark."
Christy's eyes grew large and
round. "Who do you suppose it
Hitching his long body erect,
Tom said with a gesture of his right
hand, "Well, there's only one out-
fit interested in oiir destination —
and that's Asteroid Mining."
"Good heavens," Christy said in
great surprise. "You don't mean a
big corporation Uke that would
stoop so low?"
Tom smiled at her. "With a mo-
nopoly on power metals Asteroid
has been gouging the world. People
have become resigned to the situa-
tion. But if we can supply uranium
ore cheaper there's going to be a
clamor for private enterprise again.
Under the present system private
enterprise has been withering on
the vine. This is our big chance
and the public is pulling for us."
Bill's hold on his temper slippied
another notch. "Yeah, I saw that
interview with the television news
you had. Saw it last night." He
folded his arms across his chest. "If
that's your conception of winning
support for our venture then you
better take up circus advertising."
For a moment Tom looked like
a man who's taken a bucket of ice
water in the face. Then his feet hit
the floor. "Say, now, wait a min-
ute. Bill!" he said, half in anger.
"Who d'you think's been shoulder-
ing the big share of Project Ven-
ture — while you've hung on to your
job and a pretty salary?"
"Didn't we agree you'd spend
THE BLACK TIDE
full time on the Project while I
acted as consultant between trips?"
Bill shot back.
"Yeah, I quit a fair job as first
officer on a freighter to handle it."
"And you are guaranteed fair
wages and a fat slice of any profits
we make," Bill snapped. "The
thing I didn't like in that interview
of yours was that starry-eyed eye-
wash about our ancestor being a
man of vision, a philosopher and a
dreamer. That's a helluva tag to
put on us — 'The Dream Boys'!
Tom stood up, facing his brother
in icy silence. Finally he said, "Is
that all you've got to offer — a lotta
The planes of Bill's cheeks flat-
tened under the downward pull at
his mouth corners. The black ugly
tide was running in him now and
he could not stop its sweep. His fear
of space, the frantic will to escape
from it again, all the irritation and
anger were deep currents and he
was a mere piece of flotsam tossing
on the advancing wave of the black
He said, "No, damn you. I've got
something else in my craw too. It's
Christy. I've seen the way you look
at her, and I know that whenever
my back is turned you're doing your
damnedest to break us up!"
Tom's face turned gray and sud-
denly his eyes were wide open.
Knots stood out on the points of his
In a strange half choked voice he
said, "That's a blasted lie — and you
know it. It's an excuse to cover up
for your own peculiar behavior
lately. I think — "
Christy broke in with. "Bill —
Tom, for heaven's sake stop it!"
Her beseeching eyes were glancing
sharply from one to the other in
Bill stood lightly on his feet, his
fingers curling and uncurling into
Tom went on, a bleak look in his
eyes. "I think you've been in a soft
berth too long. The monopoly you
work for has softened you, taken
out the guts a man needs to stand
on his own feet — "
Bill suddenly stiffened. His right
shot out in a hard, sharp blow
that crashed against Tom's chin.
Tom grunted, a surprised look in
his eyes, and sagged to the floor.
For a moment Bill stood over
him, nostrils flaring, his whole body
tense and waiting. But Tom was
too groggy to get up.
"Oh, Bill, how could you!"
Christy cried out, dropping to her
knees beside Tom.
Bill strode with measured step to
the door. There hr turned, and
looking back with a sneer, said,
"Sweet dreams, Dream Boy!"
IN A luxurious office of Asteroid
Mining Coiporation on the
twenty-third floor of a Manhattan
skyscraper a furious official of the
corporation faced an uncomfort-
"I've heard of some pretty crude
tricks in my time, Heilman, but
breaking into the Staker Company's
office like a common house thief
takes the tin medal for low grade
brains!" the ofiicial ranted, pound-
ing his desk. "I suppose you
thought that was an excellent way
to advance yourself in the corpora-
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
tifn I'll? Finesse, Heilman, finesse.
Til I's what it takes in matters like
this. Asteroid Mining, before it got
the monopoly, stopped competition,
but not by common housebreak-
"But— but I thought," Heilman
explained lamely, "that we could
get a copy of their trajectory and
then deal with them after they got
out to the quadrant. You know, fire
a 'meteor' at them, blanket them
with radio jamming, ruin their
radar sighting- — "
The official snorted and leaned
disgustedly back in his leather
chair. "No, no you big dumb ox!
You're retired from the team,
benched. Now you can sit on the
sidelines and watch how the first
string fix Staker and Company."
When Bill asked for his key, the
clerk handed him the key and a
faintly lavender tinted envelope.
Mystified by the feminine hand-
writing, Bill sat in a lobby chair,
and tore open the jasmine scented
The note was brief. It said,
"Dear Captain Staker: Please call
on me at your earliest convenience,
Apt. 5B. It is a matter of utmost
importance to both of us. Margo."
Ever since leaving Tom's office.
Bill's mind had been spinning about
a center of hatred and ugly rumina-
tion. But now the stimulus of the
jasmine fragrance struck a spark
of adventure on the edge of his
churning mind. The tangential
path led off into inviting mysteri-
ous shadows and he was going to
The (-iL'vator stopped at the
apartment floor of the hotel's north
Tower. In the softly lighted cor-
ridor his feet fell soundlessly on the
deep pile rug. He turned a corner,
then walked up a short flight of
steps to the door of Apt. 5B.
In response to his knock the door
was opened by a vision in white
satin. She was startlingly beautiful.
Dark heavy lashes, creamy skin,
white even teeth in a flashing smile,
a lithe body poised with the ease
of a jungle cat. She was fulsome
and high breasted, and as she fol-
lowed Bill's quick appraising
glance, she seemed to smile know-
ingly that all he saw was displayed
to best advantage.
Hat in hand Bill said, "I'm —
I'm Captain Staker."
With a throaty laugh that could
have been carefully timed, she said,
"And I'm Margo. Come right in
Bill walked onto a white rug, and
unobtrusively took in the rich fur-
niture Twenty First Century Mod-
ern, the warm brown of the log-
arithm ruled walls, paintings in
the style of Van Gogh, sharply an-
gled table lamps, the gold drapes at
"It was kind of you to come so
promptly," Margo continued, set-
tling into a chair.
Bill brought his glance back to
her. "Well, frankly, I was curious
to know what a perfect stranger
could have in common with me."
She laughed indulgently. "Nasty
of me, wasn't it? — taking advan-
tage of a human weakness." She
gestured at Scotch and bourbon on
the coffee table. "I'll let you do us
the honors. Captain. Bourbon for
Presently, glass in hand and a
THE BLACK TIDE
spreading warmth in him, Bill fixed
the girl with a quizzical look. "Tell
me, Margo, just what is this mat-
ter of utmost importance to both
She put her glass on the table,
then sat back and Bill felt the full
impact of her dark lustrous eyes.
"It's a business matter, Captain.
You've been recommended a? a
man of high purpose and dejjcnda-
bility. As the heir to my father's
controlling interest in ]nterc:onti-
nental Lines I am badly in need of
a man with your experience to han-
dle traffic details."
Bill lifted a brow. "Interconti-
nental Lines? Never heard of it.
Exclusively airline trafiic on
"It's a new company formed un-
der monopoly regulations. Of
course, I realize you're a spaceman,
but staying on Earth would have its
compensations. You can name your
Bill leaned forward and mixed
another drink. This was something
unexpected and pretty tempting
too. No more fighting his fear of
space. He downed the drink in a
few gulps, then stood up.
"Well, I — I'd like to think things
over," he said with hesitation, walk-
ing slowly to the window.
Margo followed, saying, "I don't
mean to rush you. Bill — yet the
situation needs your experienced
"I know, but my brother and I
are all set to make a scouting trip
to Beta Quadrant."
Margo leaned against the win-
dow drapes, smiling with frank ad-
miration. "I know you are. How in
the world you can take off from
Earth and hit a target far out in
space is beyond me. Is it some-
thing like firing artillery?"
The warm glow already suffusing
Bill's senses took on added lustre
when he looked into her question-
ing eyes. Expansively, he began
drawing diagrams, and explaining
the elements of space navigation.
"Now here's the trajectory my
brother and I are planning to use,"
he went on, drawing a complex
curve with loading figures and fuel
consumption and point of contact
with the Beta Quadrant.
When he paused once, Margo
touched the gold sunburst emblem
on his arm. "That's fascinating,
Bill, but making a trip like yours
is all a gamble. I'm not offering you
a gamble. I'm offering you a sure
"Yes, I realize that." Bill got to
his feet. "But just the same I want
to think your proposition over,
She leaned toward him putting
her hands on his lapels. "Bill, don't
risk your neck out there in space. I
need you desperately In the com-
Suddenly, Bill was electrically
aware of cool, smooth arms sliding
up and around his neck and her
soft red mouth within fragrance dis-
And he was exquisitely aware of
the full soft length of her pressing
against him. The scent of jasmine
reached him with bewitching
stealth. That was when he closed
the gap to her mouth in a sudden
Bill came out of a whirling state
of pure feeling to hear the visi-
phone buzzing insistently.
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
"The phone," he mumbled.
Margo opened her eyes dreamily,
then comprehended. She walked
over to the phone, picked up the
After a moment she turned
around looking at him questioning-
ly. "It's for you, Bill."
He took the phone and said,
"Captain Staker speaking."
The desk clerk said, "A gentle-
man to see you, sir. Shall I send
him to Apt. 5B?"
"No," Bill answered. "I'll be
down to my room in a few moments
and see him there."
He turned to Margo. "I guess
business comes before idyll, Margo.
I've got to go."
Her lustrous dark eyes searched
his face intently. "How long must
I wait for an answer. Bill?"
"Can you wait until Thursday —
three days?" Time enough to
thresh things out with Tom.
"I guess I can," Margo said,
touching him with an inviting
glance, "but do I have to wait that
long before I see you again?"
Bill grinned and shook his head
in wonder. "My lord, what per-
sistence! I got an idea any visiting
would not be entirely social. Some-
where along the line business would
rear its shaggy head. Okay, how
about dinner at the Wedgewood
Room tomorrow night?"
Later at his own floor to his sur-
prise he found Tom pacing the cor-
ridor. In a strained voice he said,
"The clerk said a gentleman — "
Tom came back in a conciliatory
tone, "And I don't fit the descrip-
tion, eh? Well, anyway. Bill, we got
things to talk over. How about it?"
Bill shrugged noncommittally,
unlocked his door and the two en-
tered. Perched on the arm of a
chair. Bill lighted a cigarette and
pulled deeply of it.
"Well, what is it?" He glanced
coolly at his brother sitting with his
left leg dangling over the arm of
Tom cleared his throat and said,
"I — er, came to see how we're
stacking up, Bill. After all we got
a big show on our hands and the
whole world is waiting for the cur-
tain to go up. But we can't be
squabbling between ourselves when
we go on stage. Let's settle matters
now and get on with our job —
after all we both got a lot at stake
in the company."
Bill studied the end of his ciga-
rette a long moment. "I guess you
might as well count me out, Tom.
I'm quitting the show."
Furrows appeared above Tom's
brows. "Quitting! And after all
you've put into the venture? Bill,
have you gone nuts?" He stopped
a moment. Then he said, "Oh, I
guess I see the light. Christy;, eh?
Well, Bill, honest — and I really
mean this — you can have all the
profits of the trip if I'm guilty of
trying to take Christy away from
you. You've got the wrong slant
Bill shrugged, saying, "It's not
that — and I still am not convinced
— it's just that I'm considering an-
Tom got to his feet in agitation,
looking down at Bill incredulously.
"My God, Bill, you sure have
changed! What about all those bull
-sessions we had reading and re-
reading the George Staker philoso-
THE BLACK TIDE
phy of free enterprise? The world
needs an object lesson to show how.
far it has strayed from those first
wonderful days of the Atomic Age.
We are heirs. Bill by special fran-
chise, Old George saw the shape of
things to come pretty clearly, and
it's up to us to carry out his vision
of things as they should be."
Bill ground out his cigarette in a
tray. His underlip crowded out
stubbornly. "I'm not going."
For a moment Tom stared hard
at Bill, and a heavy singing .silence
lay between them. Then Tom
strode to the door and opened it.
"All right, Bill — you and I are
The door slammed. For awhile
Bill sat looking at it, wondering why
the slammed door reminded him
of looking at his reflection in the
bathroom mirror and telling him-
self "I'm scared — scared as hell.
And if I don't get hold of myself,
I'm through — ^washed up!"
THE NEXT day when he was
busily dressing, the ultrafax
popped out the breakfast edition.
"Space Bird takes off for Beta
Quadrant. Tom Staker gambles
Bill stared at the pictures of the
rocket climbing savagely at the
head of a column of fire. The crazy,
stubborn fool. Going it alone> risk-
ing his neck and everybody else's
aboard. Well, let him go out there
and break his blasted neck on the
For the next three days Bill saw
much of Margo. She was the most
exciting thing he had ever discov-
ered, and he indulged her laugh-
ingly when she took to speaking of
his position in Intercontinental
Lines as an accomplished fact.
On the third day he took Margo
to lunch, a Margo with shining
eyes, for this was Bill's day of de-
cision. She had done her work well.
He ordered for them, and added,
"Also a bottle of champagne."
The waiter brought the cham-
pagne first. There was no doubt on
Margo's features what this was
about, even though it had always
been "if", "maybe" "possibly" in
Bill's discussions with her about the
In the midst of picking up his
glass and proposing a toast, "Here's
to my new — " Bill stopped. The
ultrafax had popped out a sheet.
Carefully putting the glass down,
he said, "That's a special bulletin."
Picking it up he read aloud,
"Staker Rocket in .serious trouble.
Home field reports damage by
small meteor. Crew on emergency
air bottles. Mysterious emanations
blind radar scope and disrupt com-
munication with Earth."
Tom — and the others, out there
fighting for their lives against suf-
focation and intense cold. Their
quarrel seemed like the antics of
teenagers now. He had to get out
to the field, .sec if he could help.
"What are you going to do?"
Margo was watching him intently,
the knuckles of her small hands
"I'm going to the field."
"But — but what about that toast
you were making to your new — job,
that's what you were going to say,
wasn't it?" Her eyes were intense
spots of jet.
"I guess that'll have to wait.
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
Margo," he told her. "I can't stand
by when Tom needs help."
Margo clutched his hands con-
vulsively. "Bill, don't take a rocket
up or you'll die in the same trap
he's dying in!" The words rushed
out as if through a trapdoor she
could not control.
Bill glanced at her with sharp,
new interest. "How do you know
it's a trap, and how do you know
he's going to die?"
Tears began to well up in her
large eyes. "All I can tell you is
don't go out there, Bill. I don't
want to lose you — now."
Dawning realization filled Bill
with horror. "Margo — Margo, for
God's sake, what kind of a game
have you been playing with me!"
Margo's shoulders sagged, and
she began to sob out her story.
"Bill, please, please believe me. I
love you. That was not my part of
the agreement with Asteroid Min-
ing — to fall in love with you. Yes, I
was hired to separate you and your
brother, break up your company."
Before Bill could snarl an answer
to that, a hotel service clerk came
with a portable phone.
"Call for you, sir."
With his eyes fixed steadily on
Margo, he spoke into the transmit-
ter, "Captain Staker."
Christy's strained and tearful
voice came over the wire. "Bill, oh.
Bill, we're getting terrible news here
at the field. Tom's ship is losing
"Yes, I know," he answered. "I
just got the Ultra on it. I'll be
right out, Christy."
As he replaced the phone he
looked at Margo with a grim, loath-
ing expression. "A female trick as
old as the universe and I had to fall
for it. You and your innocent ques-
tions about our Quadrant trajec-
tory! What a sucker I was!'' He
drew back his hand to slap her but
decided against it. She was crying
when he left.
On the way to the field the fa-
miliar but forgotten black tide of
fear rose up like a spectre once
more to scatter his gathering ideas
for helping Tom. Resigning him-
self to its power and pulling over to
the roadside, he sat still, gripping
the wheel. Yes, he told himself
tensely, here I sit while Tom and
the others drift in space needing
help. The realization of their need
slowly gave him a greater objective
clarity than he had ever had before.
He began to see himself now for
what he was — a cringing weakling
stripped naked of all manliness at
the first show of evil. Though he
perhaps had been worse than the
average, this was the trouble with
his whole security minded genera-
tion. They never dreamed great
dreams like George Staker and his
era which wrested atomic power
from the treasure house of nature.
No, this generation carefully fol-
lowed safe, charted paths in the
world of ideas. It had given up its
freedom to a world of government
controlled monopolies. And Tom,
taking up the torch left by their
creatively imaginative ancestor, was
trying to recapture a small facet of
that golden age.
WITH THE dawning in him of
Mid-Twentieth Century mind.
Bill felt a thrilling sense of freedom
as the black tide receded over the
THE BLACK TIDE
horizon of his inner world. He took
a new firm grip on the wheel, and
took off again at high speed.
Christy was at the field office
waiting outside. As he stepped out
of the car, she threw her arms
"Oh, Bill, what can you do for
He said gently, "I'll bring him
back for you."
She drew back her head to look
at him incredulously, "You still
think — ! Oh, Bill, you foolish guy,
you're the one I love, the one I've
For a moment he searched her
eyes and saw^ only a revelation of
honest feeling. A surging gladness
flooded through him, releasing an
unconscious hard ball of tension in-
"Christy, what a knothead I've
been!" He gathered her up to kiss
her fervently. "So long, Christy.
Old Staker was a piker at dreaming
compared to what I'm dreaming
for you and me!"
The field men had the rocket
fueled up and provisioned to go.
"This'll be no picnic, but there's a
prize out there if we want it bad
enough. You'll all have a share in
it, instead of handing it all over to
the government. Are you with Tom
"Sure, Bill. Let's go!"
"Yeah, let's open 'er wide up!"
They all clambered up the ship's
access ladder in high spirits. In a
moment a warning red signal rocket
shot into the sky and burst, warning
all local aircraft. Another five min-
utes and the rocket leapt off the
Earth with a long, shattering roar.
Bill kept the fissioning metals
pouring through the atomic explo-
sive after-chambers until the men
screamed at the acceleration. Final-
ly he eased it off to free flight and
the Space Dragon followed the tra-
jectory of the Space Bird.
All the way he hovered over the
radar scope. Then after long hours
of fatiguing watching he crawled
into his bunk.
Later he woke up to Radarman
Jones' voice in his ear.
"Captain — wake up. We've
pickt'd up a ship on the scope!"
Bill piled out and forced his float-
ing feet to magnetic contact with
the steel deck. He followed Jones
down the short corridor to the com-
At the radar scope Bill studied
the ship, then gave orders decelerat-
ing the Space Dragon.
"There's another ship!" Jones
exclaimed, pointing at the edge of
Bill peered at the new ship,
studying its characteristics. Then
he nodded his head. "It's the Space
Bird all right. But that first one —
I got an idea it must be an Asteroid
Mining ship.- Margo must have
transmitted the Space Bird trajec-
tory to Asteroid Mining. I don't
see how anybody would know
where to find us in such immense
distances as Beta Quadrant."
Stepping over to the communica-
tions panel he called the Space
Bird. No answer, and though he
kept calling he could not raise the
TThen he called Staker Field on
The field came back. "Staker
Field. Go ahead."
ARTHUR G. STANGLAND
"Caxton, we've found the Space
Bird but can't speak thenij so I'm
cutting you in on communications
with an Asteroid Mining ship that's
hanging around. Tape pictures and
sound — the whole works."
Flipping another switch. Bill
called the strange ship on the all-
Suddenly after long minutes of
silence the dark screen lighted up
with the impassive features of a
round faced, cold eyed man.
"Yeah? This is the Pluton. What
d'you want — and who are you?"
"This is the Space Dragon — sis-
ter ship to the Space Bird there in
your vicinity. What's the matter
with our ship?"
The man's eyes darkened and his
jaws tightened. "There's plenty
wrong with it, Space Dragon. And
the same thing's going to be wrong
with your ship, too. A 'meteor' is
going to hit your ship the same as
hit the Space Bird. Asteroid Mining
doesn't like competitors horning in
Bill shot back grimly, "I'mglad
to hear your views on competition.
Mister. The whole world is inter-
ested in our Project Venture, and
when they hear what you said
there's going to be hell to pay. Be-
cause, you see, everything you say
and how you look saying it is be-
ing recorded back at Staker Field
The other man's impassive face
suddenly turned into a ludicrous
mask of a man burning his fingers
on hot chestnuts. The two way
hook-up abruptly ended. On the
scope Bill and Jones watched the
image of the Pluton begin to move
across the scope and finally out of
range in the opposite direction to-
ward Asteroid Mining's Omega
Hours later the Space Dragon
made physical contact with Tom's
ship. Bill was the first one through
the communicating airlock.
Tom, his face drawn and hag-
gard, met him as he emerged in thf
ship. The rest of the crew were I)-
ing still to conserve air.
"Hi, Bill. Boy, are we glad to see
you. That 'meteor' they threw at us
confined us on air bottles in the for-
Bill shock his hand warmly. "Wr
got enough air for all of us. After
we patch tilings up here, let's start
carving us a chunk of private en-
Tom's tired eyes lighted up.
"Hm, say, you're so right! Our
geigers have found enough floating
ore in Beta Quadrant already to
make a big nick in Asteroid's busi-
Bill gave him a mock salute,
"Okay, skipper. You've earned the
title of Head Dreamer, and I'll help
rnake your dreams come true!"
• THE END ■
SALESMAN'S GUIDE, RULE 2: The modern 1995 customer
who enters Tracy's Department Store is not always right, but
as far as you are concerned, he is.
By Waldo T. Boyd
THE LITTLE green cue light
blinked three times. Trevor An-
son arranged his tie at just the nat-
tily precise angle, waved his hand
before a hidden lighting-efFect
switch in the smooth marble pillar
at the entrance to the display room,
and faced the elevator. This would
be a "green light" customer — a first-
time prospect, and three blinks in-
dicated a very difficult individual.
Anson quickly practiced his most
"Welcome to Tracy's Roboid De-
partment," he said, enthusiastically,
as the elevator doors slid open. His
practiced smile was just right.
He quickly noted the man's con-
servative dress, the flaming red tie.
Aggressive type, Anson decided. A
shock of red hair that didn't want
to lie down hinted that he was stub-
born as well.
"Heard you've got a sale on ro-
bots," Red-tie said, challengingly,
as he st(-p]ird aside for his wife.
The woman who stepped off the
elevator .smilt-d, showing a lovely
dimple, and An^on beamed on her.
The tiny flake nl a hat perched atop
her auburn hair reminded Anson of
the comb on a Rhode Island Red.
"Not robots, sir," Anson cor-
rected diplomatically. "The Plasti-
Cast Roboid is not exactly a robot."
"Well, anyhow, trot one out, and
let's see what it looks like. Millicent
will never be satisfied until she's
seen one of the things." He glared
dramatically in the general direc-
tion of his wife, who pretended not
Anson led them into the Gray
Room. He mentally went over the
applicable rule: Rule 23; Always
introduce the marked-down mer-
chandise first. It may provide the
customer with an incentive for buy-
ing something better.
"These are last year's models/' he
WALDO T. BOYD
said, with just the right flavor of
tlisiaste in his voice. "Of course,
you may expect a slight reduction
... a small percentage . . ."
Red-tie was muttering. "Damned
mechanical things, full of wheels
and wires. What's to keep 'em from
running amok and killing us all!"
"But dear, they don't have wheels
anymore," protested the woman,
timidly. Her face was pretty, Anson
decided, but it was obvious that the
man would be the deciding factor
in this sale.
He made a mental note: Rule
31: Pick the individual of a family
group who seems to hold the decid-
ing voice, and SELL! He remem-
bered a portion of a sales talk he
had memorized a few days before,
and took it up, almost chanting:
". . . our Roboids are grown,
much as crystals are grown, in great
vats in New Chicago. A Plasti-Cast
Roboid is guaranteed . . ."
"A fat chance we'd have of col-
lecting the guarantee if we were
chopped into mincemeat," Red-tie
interrupted, shuddering slightly as
the implication of his own words
Anson felt a moment of panic as
he failed to remember an applicable
rule from the Salesman's Guide, but
it formed in his mind at the last
moment: Rule 18: Never argue
with a customer — change the sub-
"Why don't you come with me
to the Green Room?" he asked.
"The very latest models are on dis-
play." He walked slowly at first,
then more quickly as the couple al-
lowed themselves to be led. He slid
his hand near a hidden switch in
the archway, and floodlights came
on just as they entered.
The woman uttered a little
squeal of delight at the sight of a
very handsome figure dressed in a
cutaway, standing in an attitude
"Oh!" she breathed dreamily.
"He would make such a wonderful
"Well, wind him up and let's see
what he'll do," growled the man,
his face florid in the colored light of
the Green Room.
"I'm so very sorry," Anson said,
slightly flustered, remembering that
this was always the crucial moment
in a sale. "The Roboid cannot be
activated for demonstration pur-
"What?" roared Red-tie, in-
credulously. "Do you mean to say
you want me to buy the damned
thing without knowing whether it
ticks or not?"
Anson tried desperately to re-
member the best rule for such an
answer, but failed. He plunged
desperately into his own explana-
"You see, our Roboids are
matched to your family personality
at the time of purch ase, and acti-
vated then. We cannot erase a per-
sonality once it has been transferred
to their sensitive minds." He saw
the disbelieving smirk on the man's
mouth and felt that the sale was in-
deed lost. But he plunged on, des-
"They'ire very economical. They
don't require any upkeep, like food.
When they become tired they will
sit or lie down near an electric out-
let and plug in a power cord, and
in a few minutes they are as rested
and tireless as ..."
THE SALESMAN 113
"Bosh!" Red-tie retorted. "I've been standing by, spoke to Anson,
heard enough. Come, Millicent, we "People are such dears at times,
still have time to try Bonn's new aren't they?" he said. "However,
Helio-rotor. At least they'll give us it's time for your rest period. I'll
a demonstration." take over now."
Anson escorted them to the Mag- "Thank you so much," Anson re-
na-lift. He felt better as he recalled plied tiredly.
the last rule in the Guide, the one He walked to a tiny room at the
that seemed to cover the situation far end of the great showroom and
so well: Rule 50: If they balk he- closed the door. He stretched
cause of the no-demonstration rule, wearily out on a low, folding cot,
let them go. They will be back u'licn the only piece of furniture, and
they have seen one of their jrinids readied for a tiny black power cord
with a Plasti-Cast Roboid. hanging nearby.
"Good-bye, Sirj Madam," Anson Deftly he jihiggcd it into the
said wearily, as the Magna-lift socket under his armpit, and
doors closed. "Come again soon." breathed deeply, relaxedly.
He breathed a sigh of relief as "Yes," he cli.inted softly, drifting
the elevator cage dropped them ofl" to sice]!," piojile are such dears
from sight. A salesman, who had sometimes."
■ THE END ■
STATEMENT OF THE OWNERSHIP, MANAGEMENT. AND CIRCULATION REQUIRED BY THE
ACT OF CONGRESS OF AUGUST 24, 1912, AS AMENDED BY THE ACTS OF
MARCH 3, 1933, AND JULY 2, 1946 (39 U. S. C. 233)
Of IJ, published bi-monthly at Buffalo, New York, for October 1, 1 '.i".-'.
1. The names and addresses of the publisher, pjitor, maiiii if,' I'llltor. and business
managers are: Publisher, Quinn Publislilng Company, lac, .'ids < llnton Ave., Khigston,
N. X.; Editor, James L. Quinn, 308 Clinton Avenue, Kingston, N. Y. ; Managiny editor.
None ; Business manager, None. -
2. The owner is: (if owned by a corporation, its name and ail' -^s must bo stated
and also immediately thereunder the names and addresses of stooUlKiiii. is owning or hold-
ing 1 percent or more of total amount of stock.)
Quinn Publishing Company, Inc., 308 Clinton Avenue, Kingston, N. Y. ; .Tunics L. Quinn,
308 Clinton Avenue, Kingston, New York.
3. The known bondholders, mortgagees, and other security holdrrs owuliij? or holding
1 percent or more of total amount of bonds, mortgages, or otlier scciirideH are : None.
4. The two paragraphs next above, giving the names of owners, HloelilioUlers, and
security holders, if any, contain not only the list of stocklinlderw nnd securlly lioldorg as
they appear upon the books of the company but also, in eases wlicre tlie stockholder or
security holder appears upon the books of tlic coinjiany as irut^tee or in any other
fiduciary relation, the name of the person or corporation for whom such trustee is acting,
is given; also that the said two paragraplis contain istutcmcnts enibraeiuK atiiant's full
knowledge and belief as to the circumstances and conilitiuns niKler which stockholders
and security holders who do not appear upon the books of tlie comiiany as trustees, hold
stock and securities in a capacity otlier than that of a Ijona fide owner; and this affiant
has no reason to believe that any. other person, association, or coriKjration has any inter-
est direct or Indirect in the said stock, bonds, or otiier securities llian as so stated by him.
5. The average number of copies of each issue of this publication sold or distributed,
through the mails or otherwise, to paid subscribers during the ]2 months preceding the
date shoTNTi above was : (This information is required from daily, weekly, semiweekly,
and triweekly newspapers only).
James L. Quinn, Editor.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 18th day of September, 1952.
(sEAij) Evelyn Dorothy Hubbard (My commission expires March 195.^)
The Sea Between the Planets
UNTIL ROCKETS are put into
space, no one will be able to
tell about the condition of weight-
lessness, the absence of gravity, the
state of "free fall" that can be ex-
perienced. We know that anti-
gravity devices seem improbable.
Yet it is extremely desirable to
know how a human being feels and
behaves in free fall, in a state of
null-gravity. Scientists have been
beating their heads against a solid
wall endeavoring to think up some
way, no matter how inadequate, of
simulating this situation.
Parachute jumpers offer one pos-
sibility. In a sense, when they are
falling freely, before their para-
chutes open, they are in the equiva-
lent situation of a rocket man float-
ing free in his space suit. Unfortu-
nately they can't fall for a very long
time without having to open their
chutes. In addition, even during
the moments of so-called free fall,
they are too conscious of the high-
speed air-stream flowing around
them. Shock, wind, cold — all such
conditions — lessen the sensation of
trjie free fall.
The idea of a freely falling eleva-
tor also simulates gravity-less-ness.
But here too the duration of un-
hindered fall is slight. Even if an
artificial elevator structure of great
height were constructed, the period
of being in free fall would be short,
because in a short time the snub-
bers and shock absorbers would
have to take hold and ease the free-
ly falling elevator to rest. There is a
strong possibility, however, that
such a structure might be built in
the not very distant future, for it
would enable space surgeons and
medical men interested in human
reactions to space fhght to get some
accurate observed data on biolog-
ical behavior under no gravity. In
fact, this will probably be done
soon, for medical men are clamor-
ing for data which they just can't
get in any other way.
The free-floating of a rubber-
suited swimmer whose bouyancy in
water is just one, is a rough simula-
tion, in a sense, of weightlessness
and free fall, although here the
presence of the water medium is
highly deceptive. At least the tre-
mendous freedom of motion with
the consequent loss of sense of di-
rection helps a lot in giving the feel-
ing of free fall. The sea between the
planets is of a far more tenuous
stuff than water!
The free-fall elevator mentioned
above is about the one chance we
on Earth will have of experiencing
free fall. Constructed vertically
along the side of a cliff or high
mountain, say, only as high as ten
thousand feet — by no means an im-
possible engineering feat — an eleva-
tor system would provide a consid-
erable amount of information on
how the human body reacts to
weightlessness, at least for periods
of a few minutes. The falling eleva-
tor, stream-lined and projectile-
shaped, could avoid acquiring the
conventional terminal velocity for
quite a while, and thus duplicate
considerably the conditions within
a space ship in free space without
acceleration. As soon as the plans
for actual manned rockets come a
little closer to reality, we arc likely
to see and hear a lot of organiza-
tions trumpeting for one of these
space duplicators. The technicians
and medical men will have a hard
time trying to prevent people from
sneaking a ride one way or another.
Gome to think of it, if an amuse-
ment park were to install such an
elevator, it might do a hearty busi-
Skyrocket 558-11 ...
A NAVY research plane — rocket
IS the better word — catapulted
across the sky at the incredible
speed of thirteen hundred miles an
hour! This recently released news
shows that We are finally beginning
to produce sound original research
in rocket engines instead of being
content merely to copy and modify
German rockets. The behavior and
use of the new experimental craft
compares with the plane-intercept-
ing rockets the Germans were using
in the last days of World War II.
The Skyrocket is a small plane,
with the barest traces of swept-back
wings; it is powered solely by rock-
ets and was launched from the belly
of a B-29 at thirty thousand feet.
From this altitude it climbed al-
most vertically to eighty thousand
feet and then zoomed in a series of
maneuvers designed to test its
Strength. It came through with fly-
ing colors, and despite a flight-dura-
tion measured in minutes — ^about
four for this plane — ^it showed great
promise as the ultimate interceptor
When the fuel was exhausted the
pilot glided to a safe landing and
reported on the behavior of the
rocket. He reported that the rocket
shot through the "sonic" barrier
without any of the yawing, vibra-
tion or other faults which have
characterized that operation with
jets. His personal reactions to the
flying qualities of the rocket were
slight, since he was basically operat-
ing from Instruments and, to all in-
tents and purposes, flying blind.
This single flight is not in itself
extraordinarily spectacular, but it is
indicative of what is in the cards.
If such information has been re-
leased It Is safe to assume that con-
siderably more progressive work has
already been done on other straight
It is Interesting to consider that
all that holds rocketry back is the
matter of fuel nothing else. In a
way, it is as though ^ve knew all
about airplanes and their flight but
didn't have powerful enough en-
gines. That is exactly the position of
rocketry. CheTuical fuels, no matter
how they are concocted, still haven't
the "oomph" to take rockets where
they are able to go. We won't see
really startling advances In rocket
flight until one of two things hap-
pens: either some government will
decide to build a chemical step-
rocket to go to the Moon, and hang
the expense, or some geniuses will
tie atomic energy to rocket engines.
Until then rockets are doomed to be
chained by gravity to the relatively
tliin shell of Terran air.
Greatly encouraging is the fact
that the military are growing con-
cerned with the uses to which rock-
ets may be put. Maybe they can
persuade Uncle Sam to finance
Transistor in Transition . . .
THIS IS a report on one of those
"ramis in the framus" gadgets
which;, in the course of time, is go-
ing to change the lives of all of us —
and which, because of its unspectac-
ular, technical nature, will rarely be
appreciated by any but the tech-
nician. Yet every thinking person
should be acquainted with it. It is
the gadget which is inheriting the
mantle of the Twentieth Century's
most important invention, the
The gadget is called a "transis-
tor" and was invented in the Bell
Telephone Labs only a few years
ago. Since then every laboratory on
Earth has been working madly on
it, and now it is ready to be applied
on a wide scale. The transistor is
nothing but a substitute for a
vacuum tube — "only it don't got no
Physically the transistor is a sliver
of germanium metal, sealed within
a capsule scarcely as large as a sixth
of a cigarette and with three or four
tiny "cat's whisker" wires touching
it. That's all there is to it. It has no
filament or grid or plate like an
ordinary radio tube. It requires no
power input except a simple plate
voltage. It gives off hardly any
heat. It is insensible to shock and
violence. It is small. It is not made
of delicate glass. It is rugged. It is
cheap. And its virtues could be re-
cited ad infinitum.
What does it do?
It does everything ordinary radio
tubes do! You take it from there,
compiling, if you can, a small list of
the things modern vacuum tubes
do. You'll have a fabulous list!
Electronics has burst on the
world with miracles, but generally
these have been dampened some-
what by the need for using tender
tubes. The transistor overcomes this
obstacle and wherever . a vacuum
tube control can be substituted for
human muscles or human mind, the
new industrial transistor, a mere
three years out of the development
stage, can take over the job. If you
think we live in an electronics age
now, watch the next decade and
note particularly that the vacuum
tube will be limited to power ap-
plications. The transistor, simple to
build, harder to understand in
terms of its operation ( its theory in-
volves "holes in space") is com-
Coming in the May issue: The author of that famous work,
The Exploration of Space, brings to IF readers an exciting
new yarn about a civilization that existed in space millions of
years ago. Don't miss —
JUPITER FIVE by Arthur C Clarke
MARGIN OF ERROR
(Continued from page 41)
mass and location has least effect
on all solar systems outside its own."
The young Lobian, obviously
jubilant at having so far managed
to be correct, studied his computa-
tions, adjusted several dials below
the scanning screen and brought a
single solar system into view. Twist-
ing other dials, he brought the
image nearer and nearer until only
the sun could be seen on the small
screen. Then he made a canlul
final adjustment, touched a switch,
and one by one the planets of the
solar system singly popped into
view. With an apparatus resem-
bling a four- dimensional slide rule.
Junior made rapid calculations as
each of the nine appeared.
Then he laid aside the apparatus
and watched the parade of planets
begin to move by a second time.
Halfway through he touched a but-
ton, stopping one planet on the
screen. This he pointed at hope-
It was the planet known on Earth
Horace shook his head with a
kind of triumphant sadness. "You
see?" he telegraphed George. "He
has the right solar system, but the
wrong planet, though the one he
indicated does have the least effect
on all solar systems outside its
George looked puzzled. "I don't
quite follow that myself."
"I specified provable planet. The
one Junior picked is too small for a
practical experiment with the
equipment we have available." The
teacher glanced at George. "It is
only natural you would miss that
point, for of course you don't know
our school equipment. But only yes-
terday its limitations were explained
to Junior. You see how forgetting to
include all the data in his calcula-
tions causes your son to err?"
George nodded reluctantly. His
antennae blushing a fiery red,
Junior again fiddled with dials and
brought the planet we call Earth
"There!" he telegraphed.
Horace radioed his approval, an
affiiinative grunt. George beamed
A door in back of Marshall Igor
Matoshok ojjencd and his watching
and listening; audience saw the tall,
soldierly I inure of General Serge
Marik appear on the screen. Silent-
ly the aiile-de-carn]j handed a slip
of paper to the most important man
in all the world.
The Marshall adjusted his spec-
tacles, frowned at the note and a
flush of anger mounted to his
cheeks. He waved the general away.
"Comrades," h<- announced. "I
have just received the answer the
President of the Tri-federation of
North Ainerica has made to our
reasonable offer of peaceful terms.
I will not bore you with the full
context, but it amounts to a cate-
"You will wait for my signal, of
course," Horace radioed Junior.
"When your adjustments are com-
MARGIN OF ERROR
plcte, please transmit them to me
"Yes Sir," Junior sent back.
"Azimuth two-hundred seventeen
milSj five-hundred and two micro-
mils. Elevation minus eight mils,
"It is necessary to check students'
data very carefully," Horace ex-
plained to George. "If by error we
destroyed the entire solar system, it
might throw us off our orbit suf-
ficiently to cause mild weather
changes. Conceivably it could even
cause slight Lobequakes. The elimi-
nation of the single planet's mass
will have only slight effect on its
own solar system, however. Not
enough to seriously incommode any
life there may be on the other
planets. And of course it will have
no effect whatever on solar systems
other than its own."
"Comrades and citizens of the
world," Marshall Igor Matoshek
said, "you are about to witness an
event beside which all other events
of the past pale to insignificance."
He raised one arm and spoke in a
thunderous voice. "Fire!"
"Fire," Horace transmitted ab-
sently, and as Junior touched the
proper button, turned apologetical-
ly to George. "I am afraid you
don't find this very interesting.
After all, it's pretty elementary
- THE END -
(Continued from page 54)
resurrect 5274. But they'd gain
nothing. There would still be an
extra plate. You see?
"So they destroyed the plate. He
knew they would. And they also
had to go back through the records,
to Earth, through the security files
there, through the birth records,
everything. And they destroyed
every trace, every shred of evidence
that No. 5274 ever existed."
So he kept the memory alive and
that kept 4901 alive while the other
prisoners become automatons, hear-
ing, feeling, sensing nothing except
the bells. Remembering nothing,
But 4901 could remember some-
thing magnificent, and so he could
anticipate, and that was hope, and
faith. He found that no one really
believed him but he kept on telling
it anyway, the story of the Plan.
"Maybe this number didn't ex-
ist," someone would say. "If there's
no record anywhere — "
4901 would smile. "In my head,
there's where the record is. / know.
And so it was that 4901 was the
only one who still remembered and
who could still smile when some-
time after that — no one in the
prison colony knew how long — the
Underground was victorious, and
the Managerial System crumbled.
OF PROGRESS AND
Dear Mr. Quinn:
I wish to take issue with the opin-
ions expressed by "pwf" on pages 2
and 3 of your November issue.
"You understand the law ... or
you . . . stop eating," pwf says. But
he evidently does not understand
the law. He proves this by a com-
parison of historical technological
progress with the stock market. He
must be aware that an analogy is
good only if the points of resem-
blance are demonstrated so rigor-
ously that some other form of argu-
ment would usually be less involved
and require no additional reason-
ing. In other words, the chief use
of an analogy is to impress the un-
thinking. Mr. pwf, by depending
entirely on analogy without any
demonstration, shows he realizes the
weakness of his argument.
The reasons for rises and falls in
the stock market are fairly simple
and obvious, and can be expressed
as an almost entirely uncomplicated
feedback equation. Can pwf do the
same for the causes of technological
progress? Until he can, where is his
analogy. (The equation mentioned
above shows the conditions of a col-
lapse, but it is extremely difficult to
determine by observation whether
these conditions are present. Hence
the early wolf-crying mentioned by
Rise and fall is not the pattern of
every action known. Until pwf can
show that technological progress
has the characteristics of actions
showing this pattern rather than of
those showing other patterns, his
argument must remain suspect.
I have concentrated on tech-
nological progress because this
seems to have been all taken in by
pwf's very narrow view. Actually, I
think the prospect of decline in
other fields much more likely. We
may well be heading for a period of
You can see from this I am not
being merely Pollyanna-ish. I think
the prospects of decline excellent
and frightening, and would appreci-
ate seeing some real debate on this
question, provided that it is con-
ducted on a somewhat more con-
crete level than was done in Mr.
pwf's undoubtedly well-written ar-
ticle. Some attention must be paid
to facts, such as now existing trends
in all fields, the cycles of past civili-
zations, and the level to which
knowledge and dispersion thereof
must reach before becoming no
longer totally destructible; less to
ghostly and unreliable analogies.
— Michael Wigodsky
We think pwf was writing of gen-
eralities and the over-all cycles of
THE POSTMAN COMETH
human progress and decline rather
than attempting to make a specific
analogy of humanity, reduced to a
common denominator, and its fore-
shadoived doom. However, there
can be interesting debate — and
we'd like to hear from someone who
wishes to take it up with Mr.
"BEST IN THE U.S."
The November issue of IF was
excellent, in my opinion. I con-
gratulate you on the pictures on the
inside back and front covers. It
looks so much better than when it
was plain. When I pick up an IF
mag I read it from cover to cover.
I just finished the November issue
and I find I like "The Image and
the Likeness" best . . . Please re-
member to run lots of short stor-
ies .. .
One complaint — Why didn't the
cover have anything to do with the
rest of the book?
You put out a good mag ... It is
the best science fiction magazine
in the United States.
Keep up the good work.
—Richard F. Allen
That's a mighty fine compliment.
We thank you! . . . Now, about the
covers on IF: beginning with the
November issue, our policy is to
vary our covers. Some will be sym-
bolical (November issue) some will
illustrate a story, some will suggest
a theme — whichever offers the
strongest approach to originality
BELONGS TO YOUTH"
Dear Mr. Quinn:
A letter in "The Postman
Cometh" (November issue) literal-
ly drove me to compose ray first
"letter to the editor".
This letter represents, in my opin-
ion, the height of bigotry and in-
tolerence! The writer is "cha-
grined" to find that fanzine reviews
are requested. His "worst fears are
realized". He is "nauseated" at let-
ters using "slangy drivel".
The presumptuousness of such
readers is astonishing. They are, in
effect, demanding that a mass cir-
• culation magazine be tailored to
their personal specifications without
regard to the interests of others.
The fact that I enjoy fanzines is
beside the point. I do not like your
Science Briefs section, but I would
not dream of suggesting that your
other readers be deprived of the en-
joyment and instruction they find
I have no sympathy for "nausea"
caused by letters using "infanti-
lisms" such as "terrif", "groovy",
etc. Or even "egad", "gazooks",
or "goshwowoboyoboyoboy" ! The
average adolescent science fiction
reader is, as a rule, considerably ad-
vanced intellectually beyond his age
level. The fact that they express
their enthusiasm and opinions in
the patois of their contemporaries
should not deprive them of the
right to self-expression that you of-
fer all buyers and readers of your
magazine. Science fiction belongs
to youth — let them speak!
— P. H. Economou
ON TARGET — Foreign craft is located several thousand
miles from base, approximately 1000 miles above sur-
face of the Moon. Televised image reveals it to be hostile.
Base Command switches to automatic pilot control and
both missiles converge on target for crash dive. Pursuit
is similar to principle of dog hunting rabbit, only insteod
of following a scent, missiles follow a metallic surface and
image of the craft. Two missiles insure complete de-
struction. (Drawings by Ed Valigursky.)
OVER 100 Exciting New
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0^mm mm m»t mii.m a m *ti mm «»
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